Juncker Backs France's Macron in `Fundamental' Choice, EU Says

(Bloomberg) -- European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is backing Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election in what a commission spokesman called a “pretty obvious” choice.

Juncker congratulated Macron, a political independent, after he won the first round, putting him in a runoff with far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, who came in second. Macron had 23.8 percent in Sunday’s election and National Front leader Le Pen had 21.5 percent, according to results from the Interior Ministry based on 97.4 percent of votes counted. The runoff is set for May 7.

“The choice was between defending what Europe represents and another option, which aims to destroy Europe. So it’s a simple choice,” Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for the Brussels-based commission, told reporters on Monday. “And our president therefore thought it would be worthwhile congratulating the candidate who had defended the pro-Europe option.”

The decision in the vote “was rather simple, straightforward -- those who defended what Europe stands for and those who simply want to destroy Europe,” Schinas said.

The commission urged a discussion about Europe during the rest of the French campaign. “When it comes to the electoral campaign from now to May 7, we really hope there will be a wide-ranging public discussion on Europe and the issues related to Europe,” Schinas said.

“The election is not over, but the fundamental choice is still the same,” he said.

At the same time, Schinas said Juncker would not be weighing into the U.K.’s snap elections in a similar fashion. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May last week called the vote for June 8.

“In the U.K. general election, the stake is how the Brits want to be governed in the next five years. And this is not for us, this is not for Brussels,” Schinas said. “This is not for anyone except the sovereign British people.”