17 June 2004
BRUSSELS – The Belgian Prime Minister’s bid to become head of the next European Commission looked doomed on Thursday after both the UK government and some of Europe’s most senior centre-right politicians said they did not want him to get the job.
EU leaders are supposed to decide at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday who will be the next Commission President and up until Wednesday it seemed Verhofstadt had a good chance of landing the post.
But on Wednesday evening UK officials made it clear that London would not support Verhofstadt if his candidacy were put to a vote of EU leaders.
Then on Thursday a meeting of leaders of European centre right Christian Democrat parties said they too would oppose Verhofstadt’s bid.
The centre right politicians instead backed UK conservative Chris Patten, currently the European Commissioner in charge of relations with non-EU countries, as their candidate for the post.
EU heavyweights Germany and France are still saying publicly that they would like Verhofstadt to get the job and on Thursday afternoon it was by no means clear who would be the next Commission President.
The one candidate it seems everyone could support, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker, has said he does not want the post.
The current Commission President, Romano Prodi, will step down in September.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news