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The new president of Europe’s biggest political family says he aims to win back the trust of voters in the face of the current economic crisis, as he bids to revive the group following multiple election losses.
Manfred Weber was elected as the new leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) congress in Rotterdam on Monday, taking over from former Polish president Donald Tusk, who stepped down to lead Poland’s biggest opposition party.
Speaking to Euronews, Weber promised to keep the party’s central role in Europe and help rebuild trust in the organisation.
"The EPP is the rock. We are bringing things together, we are unifieng positions and from the left and also from the extreme right we see sometimes clearly ideological proposals, and that is what we have to fight in a very democratic way," Weber said.
The MEP will remain in his current position as group leader in the European Parliament. He says the EPP are the best party to deal with the current economic crisis, as well as the fallout from the war in Ukraine.
"The biggest crisis is to handle the crisis in the moments of Europan reality. And that means to goive a proper answer on the war and also to avoid a recession to Europe that people are suffering from the economic side. And the EPP is the party of how. We know how to manage things. And that is what we will do," the new EPP president said.
Last year, the EPP faced big election losses in Germany, Weber’s home country, where his party the CDU/CSU had its worst performance since the Second World War.
French conservatives in the EPP group also performed poorly in April's presidential election, with far-right candidate Marine Le Pen making her way into the second round of voting against current president Emmanuel Macron.
Weber says its exactly this kind populism that he aims to fight, after parting ways with Viktor Orban's Hungarian populist party Fidesz last year.
"They have an interest in splitting up Europe and weakening Europe, that is exactly the opposite of what we need," he told Euronews.
Weber was elected with 447 out of 502 votes at its congress in Rotterdam, where Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenković repeated the message that the EPP aims to win back voters trust.
"The key task will be to consolidate the party before the elections, to reinvigorate our membership across the member states of the European Union,” Plenković told Euronews. "And try to gain confidence of our voters across the European Continent and again to be the strongest political family and the strongest political party in the European Union."