The 'Spitzenkandidaten process' is a procedure whereby European political parties, ahead of European elections, appoint lead candidates for the role of Commission President, with the presidency of the Commission then going to the candidate of the political party capable of marshalling sufficient parliamentary support. The Parliament remains firmly committed to the process in 2019  

The European People's Party (EPP) elected Manfred Weber (CSU, Germany), chair of the EPP group in the European Parliament, as its lead candidate. At the EPP’s Helsinki Congress on 8 November 2018, he received 79 % of the delegates’ votes

The Treaties require the European Council to propose a candidate for Commission President, 'taking into account the elections to the European Parliament' and 'after having held the appropriate consultations'. Article 17(7) TEU further provides that the proposed candidate is then to be 'elected' by the European Parliament, by a majority of its component members

The Lisbon Treaty does not explicitly mention the process whereby European political parties appoint their 'lead candidates' and the presidency subsequently goes to the political party winning the most seats, or at least capable of marshalling sufficient parliamentary support

The process remains contested among EU institutions. The Parliament and Commission have repeatedly expressed support for the procedure. The Parliament, in its resolution of 7 February 2018, affirmed its support for the procedure, and stressed that, by not adhering to the lead candidates process, the European Council would 'risk submitting for Parliament's approval a candidate for President of the Commission who will not have a sufficient parliamentary majority.' The Parliament also made clear that it stands 'ready to reject any candidate ... who was not appointed as a Spitzenkandidat’.

According to the Treaties, the candidate for Commission President is to be proposed by the European Council by a qualified majority. The European Council cannot not guarantee in advance that it will propose one of the lead candidates, because there is no automaticity in this process. The Treaty is very clear that it is the autonomous competence of the European Council to nominate the candidate, while taking into account the European elections, and having held appropriate consultations. French President Emmanuel Macron remains critical of the procedure in the absence of transnational lists – which were rejected by Parliament in February 2018

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