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Europe

Positions Harden on EU Commission Presidency

Irish Prime Minister Ahern has proposed BP Amoco chief Peter Sutherland as EU Commission president, but France and Germany are likely to block his path.

As France and Germany harden their positions on the next European Commission president by saying that the person must come from a core EU country, new names are still being floated. The latest is former Irish Commissioner Peter Sutherland, according to Irish media, who was briefly mentioned at the summit last Friday amidst a growing list of possible candidates. Sutherland, who is now chair of oil company BP Amoco, was pushed by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern at the meeting of EU leaders last week. According to The Irish Times, Ahern also put forward Sutherland's name during his tour of capitals before the summit. However, Sutherland would fall at the first fence if Germany and France stick to their demands that the future commission president must come from a country which has the core EU policies. German government spokesman Bela Anda on Monday said, "It can hardly be imagined that the commission president will come from a country not represented in the core areas of EU bodies and its institutions." This followed a comment by French president Jacques Chirac last week where he said that he did not think it a good idea that the future commission president come from "a country which doesn't take part in all European policies." This would exclude Irish, Danish, Swedish and UK candidates as well as all of the new member states -- over half of the total 25 member states - and has been flatly rejected by the UK. (EUobserver.com)

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