Thursday 22 August 2019

EU leaders 'close to agreeing on Frans Timmermans to lead European Commission'

Frans Timmermans
Frans Timmermans

Robin Emmott and Belen Carreno

European Union leaders are close to awarding socialist Dutchman Frans Timmermans the job of European Commission president, with the centre-right Kristalina Georgieva lined up to head the European Council, two diplomats said today.

Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel is a strong candidate for the job of EU foreign policy chief, the two diplomats said.

Manfred Weber, who the centre-right European People's Party had wanted to lead the Commission, looked set to head the European Parliament, the diplomats said, adding the discussions were still being finalised after more than 18 hours of talks.

READ MORE: EU leaders suspend meeting as impasse over the next president of the European Commission continues

A proposal to back Mr Timmermans had been rejected by the European Parliament's largest grouping, the European People's Party (EPP), of which Fine Gael is a member.

Speaking yesterday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I think it’s fair to say there is a lot of opposition to the proposal that was made in Osaka. A lot of the countries from central and Eastern Europe are very much opposed to the proposal that Timmermans be president of the [commission] largely because they believe it will further divisions between east and west."

READ MORE: John Bruton: 'Let the people decide who will be the next EU president'

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