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Europe

UK Seen Against Verhofstadt for Commission President

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's hopes to be given the top job in Brussels as European Commission President may be scuttled by British opposition.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's hopes to be given the top job in Brussels as European Commission President may be scuttled by British opposition. According to Belgian paper de Standaard, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair will not accept Verhofstadt as the person for the position - the two men are said to have clashed during the December Summit on the EU Constitution. Mr Blair reportedly discussed the issue with French President Jacques Chirac at a meeting over the weekend in Paris. It would not be the first time London has torpedoed efforts by a Belgian to become Commission President. Former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene's bid for the job ten years ago was vetoed by the U.K. as he was seen as too federalist.

Meanwhile, according to Austrian newspaper Die Presse, Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel is not on the shortlist of possible candidates for the job. The newspaper says that external relations commissioner Chris Patten and European Parliament President Pat Cox are the top runners. However, Mr Patten is not supported by the French and Mr Cox, though popular among new member states, is seen as not having enough executive experience. It may be that Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern stands a chance as a compromise candidate. France and Germany are said to look upon him favourably for his handling of the Constitution negotiations. EU leaders are set to decide on a candidate in June. (EUobserver.com)
  • Date 11.05.2004
  • Author (EUobserver.com)
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/51rB
  • Date 11.05.2004
  • Author (EUobserver.com)
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/51rB