LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron warned fellow European Union leaders on Tuesday not to be “railroaded” by the European Parliament into choosing a candidate to head up the next European Commission.
In a series of phone calls to leaders ahead of a summit in Brussels later on Tuesday, Cameron stressed they should choose who they want rather than be strong-armed into selecting a candidate backed by the European Parliament.
“We need to follow the correct procedure for that, which is that the European Council has the right to nominate, that we shouldn’t be railroaded by the parliament,” a spokeswoman for Cameron said, referring to the body which groups EU leaders.
Cameron conveyed the message in phone calls on Monday and Tuesday to 10 EU leaders. He also spoke with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
Under EU rules, leaders nominate a candidate for the top job, which has sweeping legislative powers, “taking into account” elections to the European Parliament. Whoever they choose must be approved by a simple majority in parliament.
But Cameron is concerned that one of the leading candidates is arguing that EU leaders should choose him based on the outcome of the European elections. Cameron wants leaders to first identify reform priorities and to then pick someone suitable, his spokeswoman said.
Cameron sees the candidate, former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, as too federalist and likely to damage his hopes of reforming Britain’s EU ties. Juncker has been chosen by the EU’s main center-right political group, the European People’s Party, to be their candidate for the top job.
Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn