NOW that the voting is over and the make-up of the new European Parliament has been decided, one of the major questions is who will fill the offices that wield real power in the European Union.

With the UK a bystander, France and Germany will have the most influence over who takes the top jobs, particularly the most important post elected by the Parliament – namely the presidency of the European Commission, a position currently held by Jean-Claude Juncker. Angela Merkel has been backing one of her country’s MEPs, Manfred Weber (pictured), who leads the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament. Merkel’s CDU party is a member of the EPP but that bloc lost 41 seats in the elections and now has just 180 of the 751 MEPs.

The Socialists and Democrats group also lost ground which means that these two allied groups will not be able to do what they usually do – fix the top jobs for their chosen candidates.

At the moment, four main candidates are in the running to replace Juncker – Weber, Frans Timmermans (Netherlands) of the Socialists and Democrats, Margrethe Vestager (Denmark) of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats and Ska Keller (Germany) of the Greens. The last named is now a distinct possibility for the Commission presidency.

A possible candidate is Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator over Brexit. He presumably will not get the backing of Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party MEPs.