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Majority of French Call EU Election a Personal Failure for Macron

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Battle begins for top EU jobs after centrists lose majority in parliament

After dinner in Brussels, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel left saying she stood by her centre-right group's candidate to lead the European Commission for the next five years.

A bloc-wide election last week returned a European Parliament with a splintered centre and gains by pro-EU liberals and Greens as well as eurosceptic nationalists and the far right, making a common agenda harder.

The commission is the body that enforces European Union rules and drafts European Union law, and its presidency is now held by Jean-Claude Juncker, who is at the end of his five-year term.

Several others are in the running, among them chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who is French, Danish liberal Margrethe Vestager and Dutch centre-left candidate Frans Timmermans.

Previously, the EU heads of government had advised for almost four hours about the implications of the result of the European elections.

French President Emmanuel Macron's approval rating went down by 2 percent after the recent elections to the European Parliament, a fresh poll revealed on Thursday.

Macron says it should not be automatic that the lead candidate of the largest party becomes president.

"Today, we didn't talk about individual names", she told a news conference following the informal summit where she underlined talks were focused on skills and competencies required for top spots, including the EU Commission president. "Brexit has been a vaccine against anti-EU propaganda and fake news".

Avoiding any mention of the differences or candidate names, Tusk said the leaders hope "we can provide clarity on all these posts already in June", but he said that "this depends not only my good will, but also on the good will of everyone involved".

Merkel reiterated that she stood by Weber. "He has the experience not only at the national level but also at the European level to lead the commission".

Macron met with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday evening, reportedly with the idea of forming an alliance to oppose Weber. The European Council has a certain role, the European Parliament has a certain role. For the first time in the past 25 years, the two leading factions lost the majority of seats in the European Parliament that is needed to nominate a candidate for the European Commission president. Let us wait and see who will head European institutions - the European Commission, the European Council and the European Union External Action Service.

Stripped of their longtime combined parliamentary majority, the EPP and SD are looking for support from the liberal ALDE and the Greens, since the four groups together would command comfortably enough seats to approve or reject any nomination.

The EU would risk an institutional logjam if talks drag on, leaving it unable to make pivotal policy decisions at a time when it faces a more assertive Russia, China's growing economic might and an unpredictable USA president.

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