May 9, 2019 / 5:10 PM / 17 days ago

Macron wants 'strong', competent personalities for EU top jobs

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference after the informal meeting of European Union leaders in Sibiu, Romania, May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted strong, competent officials to lead European institutions in the next five years, regardless of their nationality, but stuck to his opinion that EU leaders, not parliament, should pick them.

With European parliament elections coming up later this month, EU leaders have started horse-trading behind the scenes over which officials, and from which countries, should lead EU institutions including its executive, the European Commission.

“I am not obsessed with nationality issues,” Macron told a press conference in Romania. “We must avoid a situation whereby compromises end up with the least good candidate,” he said.

“We must choose the best possible candidates, for a strong and ambitious European project,” Macron said, adding that he did not feel bound by the “Spitzenkandidaten” system whereby parties in the EU parliament would pick the head of the European Commission, and not EU leaders, as was done in the past.

Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by John Irish

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