Frans Timmermans said after his failed bid to become European Commission president, he can relate to fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen in the Tour de France.
“Like Dylan Groenewegen in the Tour de France, it is hard to fall just before the finish while dreaming of victory. But after that you have to get up and continue cycling,” he told Dutch broadcaster NOS on Sunday, referring to Groenewegen’s crash near the end of Stage 1 of the race over the weekend.
Timmermans, currently Commission vice president and the Socialists’ lead candidate for the top job, was responding publicly for the first time to the fact that European leaders rejected a plan supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to install him as Commission boss, instead nominating German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Timmermans said he would meet von der Leyen Sunday afternoon, saying he was “interested in hearing from her what her plans are.”
He also said it is the “first time” to his knowledge that “the European Council has interfered in so much detail” in the composition of the next Commission.
After the plan to install Timmermans failed, EU leaders ultimately found a compromise that involves Timmermans being nominated again as Commission vice president.
“I have seen that I am also a part of this package,” he said.
“In the coming days and weeks, I will prepare myself very well to know exactly what is the objective and what is expected of me.”
He also denied that opposition from Poland and Hungary to his appointment had been decisive.
“I know that they were very much opposed to my appointment, [but] they would not have been able to block it if they had not received support from other countries,” he said.