Fight for Top EU Job Heats Up as Finnish Ex-Premier Enters Race

(Bloomberg) -- Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb entered the contest for the top European Union job, seeking to steer the bloc after Brexit and become the first Nordic native in the post.

Stubb will compete for the nomination of the EU Christian Democratic party to which he belongs to succeed Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission. Juncker’s five-year term atop the EU’s executive arm is due to end on Oct. 31, 2019.

Stubb’s announcement on Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, adds uncertainty to a process already filled with it.

Manfred Weber, German leader of the Christian Democrats in the European Parliament, is also vying to be their nominee for commission chief. In addition, other European parties plan to field their own candidates and the EU’s national leaders say they may exercise a right to come up with a nominee of their own.

At stake is the choice of a person to fill the EU’s most influential job as the bloc fights to contain populist forces and uphold a multilateral global order being challenged by U.S. President Donald Trump. The commission proposes EU legislation on everything from auto-pollution limits to mobile-roaming fees, acts as the bloc’s antitrust authority, administers its 140 billion-euro ($162 billion) annual budget, negotiates trade accords and runs a foreign service.

“European values are currently under attack,” the 50-year-old Stubb, who has just taken a leave of absence from his job as a vice president of the European Investment Bank, told reporters on Tuesday at the EU Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg. “I firmly believe in the process of European integration.”

His choice of the eastern French city to announce his campaign for the leadership of the Brussels-based commission reflects a relatively recent EU experiment linking that job to European legislative elections. The next EU Parliament elections are slated for May 2019.

Under the non-binding process, first used in 2014, Europe’s main political parties nominate candidates for commission president. The parties with the best results in the elections to the EU Parliament, which oversees the commission, lay claim to its leadership.

The EU Christian Democrats, also known as the European People’s Party and the political family of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are due to elect their nominee for commission president at a meeting in Helsinki on Nov. 7-8.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.