Alexander Stubb, a former Finnish premier and finance minister, has put in a bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the head of the European Commission.
This makes him the second declared candidate from European Parliament’s centre-right European People’s Party. The other is Manfred Weber, who currently leads the group.
Slovak Socialist Maros Sefcovic, who is Juncker’s vice president for energy, also launched his bid to head the European Commission earlier this year.
Stubb wrote in a letter to fellow members of the EPP that he was a “declared pro-European”, running to defend European values, such as freedom, democracy and equality.
“It is time to rally around our cause for a strong Europe. This means mitigating unnecessary divisions between East and West, North and South. We must be better at highlighting what unites us instead of differentiates us,” he wrote.
The candidate has been prime minister, finance minister and foreign minister of Finland. He is currently a vice president at the European Investment Bank.
The EPP is the largest trans-national grouping in the EU legislature bringing together 77 national parties and partners from 41 countries. The group will choose its candidate, known as the Spitzenkandidat, for the presidency in an election next month.
The European Parliament believes that the European Commission president should be one of the political group leaders – as Juncker was in 2014.
But some member state heads, such as French president Emmanuel Macron, oppose the automatic linkage between party leaders and the commission job.
Juncker’s term as commission president ends in May 2019. His successor is proposed by the European Council and subsequently needs to be approved by a vote of the European Parliament.