German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she would be happy to see the former prime minister of Luxembourg as the conservative candidate to head the European Commission.

Merkel says she has "great sympathies" for Jean-Claude Juncker to become the consensus candidate of the European People's Party, of which her Christian Democrats are a part.

She told reporters Thursday at a news conference with Juncker's successor as prime minister, Xavier Bettel, that the EPP bloc will make a final decision at its March 6-7 meeting in Dublin.

A nod from Merkel is a significant boost for Juncker, who ran Luxembourg from 1995 until 2013.