EU leaders to choose first full-time president 2009-11-19 17:34:00   Print

    BRUSSELS, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of the European Union (EU) are scheduled to choose the bloc's first full-time president and foreign policy chief at an informal summit held here on Thursday, but no consensus has been reached on the issue up to now.

    The heads of state and government from 27 EU member states are supposed to appoint, over a working dinner, president of the European Council, high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and secretary-general for the Council Secretariat.

    Before Thursday's meeting, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, has conducted intensive consultations with his counterparts from other member states, but has failed to reach a consensus.

    Cecilia Malmstrom, currently Sweden's EU affairs minister, saidearlier, "If the situation should appear that there is no decision on Thursday, it is up to the presidency to evaluate the situation."

    When asked whether the summit could be extended until Friday afternoon, she said, "There's Friday and there's Saturday and Sunday. Or to take a break and reconvene (on Friday). But the aim is to reach a conclusion on Thursday night."

    The three new top EU posts are regulated in the Lisbon Treaty, which is to come into force on Dec. 1, 2009, to increase the bloc's influence on the international stage.

    Among the front-runners of the job of president are Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga are also names mentioned for the post.

    As to the candidates for the EU foreign policy chief, former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema and EU Enlargement Commissioner from Finland Olli Rehn have emerged as the two strongest competitors after British Foreign Secretary David Miliband declared his unavailability for the job. Britain's EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton is also a potential candidate.

Backgrounder: Duties of first full-time EU president, foreign minister

Backgrounder: Top candidates for EU president

Backgrounder: Top candidates for EU foreign policy chief

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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