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Report: Merkel backs German conservative's bid for EC presidency

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Report: Merkel backs German conservative's bid for EC presidency

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown her support behind a German conservative's bid for the top post of the European Commission, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the deliberations.

Manfred Weber, a member of the Christian Social Union in the German state of Bavaria and head of the center-right European People's Party, or EPP, caucus at the European Parliament, formally announced his intention to succeed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whose term ends in October 2019.

"I want to become the EPP's lead candidate for the 2019 European elections and be the next president of the European Commission. Europe needs a new beginning and more democracy," Weber said in a tweet.

Merkel reportedly favors Weber to be the candidate of the EPP, the EU's largest political family. The EPP will open bidding for candidacies Sept. 6 and voting is scheduled at a party congress in November.

If chosen to become the EPP's preferred candidate, Weber could become the first German EC president in more than 50 years, Bloomberg said. Merkel reportedly prefers having a German clinch the presidency of the European Commission over that of the European Central Bank, casting doubts on Deutsche Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann's chances of succeeding ECB President Mario Draghi.

Juncker's successor will be selected by national governments with the parliament's approval. Other possible contenders for the post are the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.