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Europe

Center-Right to Name Candidate for EU Commission President

The centre-right European People's Party plans to nominate its own candidate for the presidency of the European Commission - most probably the Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

The leader of the European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, said that his party had "the right" to choose a candidate from its own political ranks. The EPP wants to choose its candidate on Wednesday night, on the eve the EU summit where member states will decide who will be future chief of the Brussels executive. The most likely candidate to be "appointed" by the conservatives is the Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, although he keeps denying his interest in the position. But after a recent tour of EU capitals, Irish Prime Minister and President of the European Council Bertie Ahern said: "Everybody wants him." Ahern, however, is also still in the race for the top post himself.
Another conservative candidate could possibly be Austrian Prime Minister Wolfgang Schüssel, but he risks being vetoed by Paris - because of his willingness to form a coalition in 2000 with the far-right Freedom Party in Austria. By choosing its own candidate, the EPP wants to hinder the election of the Belgian liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt as Commission president. However, according to the Financial Times Deutschland, sources in the German and French governments say the two countries are set to push Verhofstadt as the common Franco-German candidate at the EU summit. (EUobserver.com)

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