Van Rompuy, from Belgian premier to EU president?

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Van Rompuy, from Belgian premier to EU president?

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Belgian centre-right Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy is emerging as a strong “consensus” runner for the new full-time EU president. This follows informal discussions between all the leaders at last week’s EU summit.

Going into this week, top Irish bookmakers Paddy Power slashed Van Rompuy’s odds from a long shot to 3-1. It placed him just behind Dutch premier and avowed non-candidate Jan Peter Balkenende and former UK prime minister Tony Blair. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is still giving Blair his robust support, but Paris has remarked that frontrunners do not always finish first. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker expressed interest in the job, but again the French are not keen. The Swedish EU presidency says the bloc’s 27 leaders “are ready to convene at short notice” to decide.