What do Weber and Timmermans think about Brexit as they pitch for top EU job?

What do Weber and Timmermans think about Brexit as they pitch for top EU job?
Copyright REUTERS
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros
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The two main candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, Manfred Weber and Frans Timmermans, said how they felt about Brexit in a France 24 TV debate.


As the race to be the next European Commission president heats up, the two main candidates, Manfred Weber from the European People's Party (EPP) and Frans Timmermans from the Party of European Socialists (PES), faced off in a TV debate hosted by France 24 on Wednesday night.

Both men answered questions on key European issues — including the one that has dominated European politics for weeks: Brexit.

You can watch their answers on Brexit in the video player, above.

The two opponents expressed "regret" over the UK's decision to leave the European Union (EU), although Timmermans went one step further by saying he hoped London would stay.

"I think that would be good for the UK and it would be good for the European Union," said the PES candidate.

For Weber, it's a problem a country that is leaving the union is having a say in the future of the bloc.

"I have a problem that a country who is now leaving the EU, I regret this, we all regret this, but formally they are leaving and they decided to leave. A country who is leaving the EU is participating in the European elections. It’s deciding about the future of our union, that’s not easy to understand I must say."

The candidates then turned to another topic linked with Brexit: Euroscepticism.

Timmermans said scepticism is not bad as long as it doesn't turn into "Europhobia" and "we see a lot of that, especially in the populist side in the UK as well and in other countries."

The Dutch politician suggested that the problem should be tackled at the EU level to "convince people that Europe is a good thing for them".

He suggested building a taxation system where multinational corporations pay taxes in member states, paying everyone the minimum wage in every state, closing the paying gap between men and woman, and strengthening the plastics legislation to take out the damaging material out of the ocean.

Other subjects the candidates debated were migration, farming subsidies, taxes, security, and EU-US trade.

Read more: EU Parliament poll: Farage's Brexit Party surges as Eurosceptic groups rise

Read more: European Parliament elections 2019: who are the candidates for the EU's top job?

Additional sources • France 24

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