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EU leaders divided on top job candidates despite marathon negotiations


Brussels:  European Union (EU) leaders were on Monday far from an agreement on who should take over senior roles in the bloc's administration, including a replacement for the incumbent Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, despite lengthy negotiations into the night, diplomatic sources have said.

Heads of state and government travelled to Brussels on Sunday for a crunch summit, where they remained negotiating into the night to no avail. They must choose new faces to head the Commission, the Council, the Central European Bank and Foreign Policy, reports Efe news. 

Media attention was focused largely one of the EU's most coveted roles, the Commission President. 

Several EU nations like Spain, France, Germany and the current head of the Council Donald Tusk have proposed Dutch politician Frans Timmermans, a member of the Party of European Socialists (PES) and currently a vice-president at the Commission. 

Sources from the delegation travelling with Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro SAnchez, have confirmed the country's support for the Dutchman. 

European leaders tied to the bloc's centRE-right People's Party (EPP) and several Eastern European nations have resisted the proposal. 

The EPP has presented its leader, German politician Manfred Weber, for the job. 

The top roles must be shared out in a way that satisfies the main parties in the European Parliament, the PES, the EPP and the Liberals (ALDE), following elections in May. 

ALDE has put forward Dane Margrethe Vestager for Commission chief. 

"An agreement is complicated effectively because the positions have not changed," one source close to the negotiation said, adding, however, that some sort of deal should be sealed Monday. 

Not only must the mainstream parliamentary groups strike a consensus but the sharing out of the posts must respect a geographical balance. 

Although the fate of the EU's institutions is currently in the hands of the EU's 28 leaders, the issue could also be put to a vote in the Council, where a candidate needs the support of at least 21 countries that represent at least 65 percent of the EU's population.

It could also go before lawmakers at the European Parliament, where a candidate needs an absolute majority. 

Italian Prime Minister, Guiseppe Conte, spoke against the possibility of Timmermans becoming Commission chief and suggested that the future leader did not necessarily have to be one of the leading Spitzenkandidaten, as the candidates are known. 

The stuttering decision making at the EU forced Finland to postpone its official presentation taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council. 

"Morning has broken at 6.30 after a sleepless night in Brussels. And the #EUCO just continues and continues..." its official Twitter page said. 

The outgoing officials are President of the European Commission Juncker; Council, Tusk; ECB, Mario Draghi and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

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