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Spain foreign minister gives up MEP seat with eye on EU top job

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Spain foreign minister gives up MEP seat with eye on EU top job
FILE PHOTO: Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell attends a news conference during the Southern EU Countries summit at Filoxenia Conference centre in Nicosia, Cyprus January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou/File Photo   -   Copyright  Yiannis Kourtoglou(Reuters)
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MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s acting foreign minister Josep Borrell gave up his newly won European Parliament seat on Wednesday to remain in the Socialist administration at home and stay in the running for a senior job in the EU executive, sources said.

Wednesday was the deadline for members of European Parliament to choose between their EU mandates and other posts, and Socialist party sources said Borrell, 72, would stay on as minister.

Socialist leader and acting premier Pedro Sanchez has made it clear he wants Spain to have a stronger voice on the European stage and Borrell’s name has been floated by party sources as a potential candidate to lead the bloc’s common foreign service or become a deputy head of the European Commission.

Fellow Socialist EU leaders tasked Sanchez in May to lead their camp in intense EU horse-trading to pick five names for the top EU positions.

Giving up his seat as a EU lawmaker means Borrell can not be European Parliament president, one of the jobs up for grabs.

The other roles are the presidents of the executive European Commission, the European Council – which represents member states – and the European Central Bank; and EU foreign policy chief.

There are other possible Spanish runners such as acting economy minister Nadia Calvino, environment minister Teresa Ribera and agriculture minister Luis Planas.

Sanchez, who won Spain’s national election in April, came first again in May’s European Parliament election. He must still negotiate a governing majority at home to stay on as prime minister.

(Reporting by Belen Carreno; Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Alison Williams)

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