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EU leaders close in on top jobs deal after marathon talks

Updated: 2019-07-01 17:16

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium, on June 30, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS - European Union leaders are close to picking Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans to head the European Commission, two diplomats said on Monday, after an uninterrupted 18 hours of talks during which the bloc's political families vied for influence.

Under an agreement that is still being finalised by the EU's 28 national leaders, centre-right Kristalina Georgieva, a Bulgarian member of the European People's Party (EPP), would become president of the European Council that represents member states in EU hub Brussels, the sources added.

Manfred Weber, who the EPP had wanted to lead the Commission but who faced strong resistance from France and Spain, looked set to head the European Parliament, the diplomats said, perhaps for just half of the usual five-year term.

The discussions were still being concluded, the officials said, adding that last-minute changes were still possible.

Weber's failure to command majority support in his bid is a victory for French President Emmanuel Macron, who criticised the German EU lawmaker's lack of executive experience but has also argued that the centre-right share power after 15 years of dominating the Commission.

"We've got it. Timmermans goes to the Commission," one of the diplomats from a leading European power said.

Leaders had hoped to swiftly agree on a replacement for Jean-Claude Juncker as EU chief executive that would then allow a deal on who should take over from Mario Draghi as European Central Bank president. But that decision will almost certainly be postponed.


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