EU leaders fail to agree top job candidates

A summit of 28 European Union leaders has failed to reach agreement on who should take on the bloc’s top jobs.

The talks, held in Brussels, continued until the early hours of Friday morning without candidates being finalised.

On top of trying to find majorities for successors, leaders were also trying to decide what issues the EU should prioritise over the next five years.

A new summit will now be held on June 30 just two days before a key meeting of the European Parliament.

All of the bloc’s top jobs are changing hands this year, following European wide elections in May.

Tense differences are said to have emerged over the successors for the key roles.

After Thursday’s summit, European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed a new summit was necessary.

The most powerful role being decided is EU Commission President, held by ex-Luxembourg PM JeanClaude Juncker since 2014.

The European Commission drafts EU laws, oversees national budgets, enforces EU treaties and negotiates international trade deals.

“I note with certain amusement that it is not easy to replace me,” Mr Juncker told journalists at a press conference.

Besides the replacements for him and Mr Tusk, the leaders also have to decide on a new European Central Bank Presi- dent and a high representative for foreign policy.

Nominees require the support of least 21 of the 28 EU leaders and a majority in the European Parliament which will meet on July 2.

The choices for the EU’s top jobs have to take account of last month’s European elections and achieve an acceptable balance regarding large and small states, gender and geography.

The elections produced more political fragmentation, including a surge in the numbers of Green and liberal MEPs.

The contest for a new commission president began with the parliament’s “Spitzenkandidat” (lead candidate) race, but leaders do not have to go along with the result.

The EU parliament says the president should come from the party with the most seats which would mean Manfred Weber, a German in the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

Strong potential rivals to Mr Weber are EU veteran Frans Timmermans (Dutch, from the centre-left Socialist bloc) and Danish EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a liberal.

But French President Emmanuel Macron is reported to favour Michel Barnier the man who has been in charge of negotiating Brexit for the post.

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