Stoelendans rond topfuncties in EU kan Nederlands voorzitterschap frustreren (en)

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - EU leaders meeting next week are set to have a hard power tussle over who will get the top jobs in Brussels later this year.

There are three main jobs up for grabs: head of the European Commission, the EU's foreign policy representative and deputy secretary general of the Council - a very powerful behind-the-scenes position currently occupied by a Frenchman.

For the Commission post several names are in the hat - with Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt emerging as the front runner.

A package?

However, Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker and his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Schüssel are waiting in the wings should the centre-right emerge victorious in the European elections and demand that the top politician in the Commission be of their political hue.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana's mandate also runs out in the autumn - however, the Spaniard may run again for his current post in which case his "name is on the job, if he wants it", according to one EU diplomat.

A bigger fight is likely to occur over whether someone else should step into the shoes of the deputy secretary general of the Council.

Frenchman Pierre de Boissieu currently holds the influential post and would like to continue.

Franco-German manoueverings

Despite mooted deals between France and Germany which suggested that the Frenchman could hold on to the job in return for a German becoming the new super vice-president of the commission, other names have been mentioned.

One of the most frequent is former Danish ambassador to the EU, Poul Skytte Cristophersen.

The Franco-German collusion, however, is not working so well on the question of who should be head of Europol - the EU organisation for police co-operation between member states.

A German and a French person are up for the job - but as there was no agreement on Tuesday (8 June) after a justice and home affairs council - the issue has also been pushed on to the agenda of EU leaders meeting next week on 17-18 June.


For the incoming Dutch EU Presidency - taking over on 1 July - getting these appointments confirmed next week is of crucial importance.

If Javier Solana is not reconfirmed as the next EU foreign policy chief or if the deputy secretary general of the Council is not agreed upon then it could leave the Dutch without direct speaking partners in the Council of ministers.

This potential problem has been acknowledged by Dutch ambassador to the EU Tom de Bruijn.

Speaking at the European Policy Centre in Brussels on Wednesday, Mr de Bruijn said the Presidency is "very, very much dependent on the council secretary".

He added that The Hague is "praying small prayers" that both Mr Solana and Mr de Boissieu keep their jobs.

If no agreement is reached, another summit dealing with this issue may have to be hastily convened in July - as the first foreseen EU leaders summit takes place only in November.

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