The White House calls Europe, but who picks up? EU leaders can’t decide – CNN

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(CNN) — Who will lead the fractured European Union for the next five years? That question has caused weeks of bickering, but finally a decision must be made.

In Brussels, Europe’s leaders are gathering to vote on the next president of the European Commission, a month after the European election revealed huge cracks in the bloc.

Whoever they chose will represent the 28-strong union globally and be the answer to the question posed by American presidents for decades: “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?”

Negotiations have been tricky. One of the most powerful among the European leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has endorsed the former Luxembourg prime minister and Brussels veteran Jean-Claude Juncker.

Juncker is a member of Europe’s strongest political party, the center-right EPP. In Juncker’s favor are new rules which require EU leaders to consider the outcome of May’s EU election, rather than just picking whoever they wish.

Merkel and Juncker share views on closer cooperation and stricter fiscal discipline within the EU.

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But Merkel’s preference is being rejected by others.

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Another powerful leader, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is heading up a group campaigning against Juncker’s appointment, saying he is too federalist for the job.

Cameron, facing pressures from euroskeptics at home, has criticized the EU as being “too big and too bossy.”

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A European president in favor of even closer cooperation — as Juncker advocates — runs against Cameron’s plans to reform the UK’s position within the Union and bring some power back to London.

The EU election in May saw a surge in the support of euroskeptic parties across Europe, further complicating Juncker’s path to the top job.

Although the anti-EU protest parties do not have enough power and unity to put forward their own candidate, their voice is strong enough to block those they dislike.

However, Juncker’s detractors have failed to come up with an viable alternative.

Names floated included Christine Lagarde, the IMF chief, who rejected the idea; and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, famed for her selfie with U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service last December.

But no-one has emerged as a strong enough candidate to challenge Juncker and his high-powered backers.

This interactive feature may not display properly on some mobile devices.


The White House calls Europe, but who picks up? EU leaders can’t decide – CNN

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