Friday 19 January 2018

Trichet sides with Merkel to back Juncker for ECB boss

Jean Claude Trichet, in discussion with Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Virginia Mayo
Jean Claude Trichet, in discussion with Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Virginia Mayo

Ian Wishart and Fergal O'Brien

Former European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet has entered the tussle over who leads the European Commission, backing Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to win the post over UK opposition.

As ECB chief until 2011, Mr Trichet helped steer the euro area's response to the sovereign debt crisis while Juncker led meetings of the region's finance ministers. The Frenchman said former Luxembourg prime minister Juncker has the attributes needed to head the European Union's executive arm.

"I have worked a lot with Jean-Claude Juncker and I could appreciate enormously the man and the professional," Mr Trichet told CNBC yesterday.

"I can tell you that when you have to coordinate the action of 15 democracies, 16 democracies, in this extraordinarily difficult time, you have to prove some qualities."

The question of who leads the commission after its mandate expires in October has exposed divisions within the 28-nation bloc. Most leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have sided with the directly-elected European Parliament in supporting Mr Juncker, while a group led by British Prime Minister David Cameron feel Mr Juncker is too strong an advocate of a centralised EU to represent all the bloc's nations.

Dr Merkel and Mr Cameron were unable to reconcile differences when they met with the prime ministers of Sweden and the Netherlands yesterday. The EU's leaders are due to discuss the bloc's agenda when they meet in Brussels on June 26-27.

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