Another contender to lead the EU… Both Tony Blair and now Jean-Claude Juncker are considered as possible future European Union Presidents, once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force. Yet the contest for the bloc’s new top job is exposing divisions.
The British former Prime Minister has been seen as a front runner since early on. But now current Luxembourg premier Juncker has told French newspaper Le Monde he would not refuse to stand if called. Some see him as a unifying candidate. Britain’s patchy EU record – it’s not a euro country or a Schengen country, for instance – is a handicap for Blair. Some hold his support for the Iraq war against him, too. Yet the British find Juncker too federalist for their liking. And Paris is reportedly luke-warm on the Luxembourger. According to the Guardian newspaper, Downing Street is fully behind Blair. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is said to have mobilised his political forces to help his predecessor land the EU president job. Foreign Minister David Miliband had a ringside seat at talks in Luxembourg, preparing for this week’s EU leaders’ summit: “The Lisbon Treaty gives us the opportunity and the responsibility to play a major role in the world. I think that we need strong leadership to achieve that.” Until the Lisbon Treaty becomes definitive, no decision on new appointments can be taken. EU sources said another summit is in the planning for mid-November, and other candidates could be considered.