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Luxembourg PM rejects Blair as EU president

Luxembourg PM rejects Blair as EU president

Luxembourg's premier spoke out Tuesday against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's candidacy to become the European Union's first-ever president.
Premier Jean-Claude Juncker said Blair's support for the invasion of Iraq and his aloofness from Europe _ he kept Britain out of the euro and the EU's visa-free travel zone _ disqualified him from the top EU job.
Juncker did not nominate himself for the position but did not discourage others from doing so.
"If the call went out to me," he told the French daily Le Monde, "I would have no reason to refuse to listen."
The EU leaders, at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, will discuss who should fill the top jobs of a new EU that is emerging from a treaty to streamline decision-making in the 27-nation bloc.
A final decision, also on the future EU foreign minister, may not be announced until December.
On Tuesday, the Czech Republic's Constitutional Court postponed a ruling on whether the EU reform treaty complies with the nation's constitution. Supporters of President Vaclav Klaus, an ardent euro-skeptic, have asked for such a ruling, holding up final ratification of the pact that the other 26 EU nations have already approved.
The leaders of Britain, France and Germany back Blair, who was Britain's prime minister from 1997 to 2007, for the job of chairing European Council meetings and representing the EU to the outside world.
But the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg governments say he lacks enthusiasm for more European integration.
"The (EU) president must be able to take on board the plans, ideas and dreams of countries large and small (and) facilitate the Franco-German" cooperation that has long been the bedrock of the EU, Juncker told Le Monde.
In recent weeks, other names have been floated in opposition to Blair.
They include Paavo Lipponen, a former prime minister of Finland; Herman Van Rompuy, the current Belgian prime minister; Felipe Gonzalez, a former prime minister of Spain; and Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch prime minister.


Updated : 2020-12-03 12:16 GMT+08:00