EU top jobs talks continue this WEEK
EU top posts consultations continue this week, with council chief Herman Van Rompuy in Rome and Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt in Berlin for talks ahead of the 26-27 June summit.
Van Rompuy will meet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Wednesday (18 June) for a working lunch. Renzi has expressed scepticism about the so-called Spitzenkandidat Jean-Claude Juncker to become the next EU commission president.
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In order for Juncker to get the the job, a "qualified majority" of member states have to nominate him. If Italy abstains or says No, along with Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden, the votes would not suffice for Juncker to pass.
British PM David Cameron last week wrote an op-ed in several European newspapers to restate his opposition to Juncker.
But the European Parliament, which has to vote on the nomination, has said it would veto any other candidate but Juncker. Following his consultations with the parliament and national leaders, Van Rompuy will have to make a proposal at an EU summit on 26-27 June.
Social Democrat Martin Schulz, the Spitzenkandidat whose party came second in the EU vote, meanwhile is eyeing the leadership of his group in the European Parliament, with elections due to take place Wednesday. Schulz would be interim leader until the negotiations for the top posts end.
With discussion among the two largest political families - the centre-right EPP and the S&D - also starting for a 'grand coalition' type of arrangement, at least one of the top posts will have to go to a Social Democrat. The EP presidency is also to be divided between the two groups.
Danish PM Thorning-Schmidt, a Social-Democrat tipped as a possible successor to Van Rompuy, is in Berlin on Thursday to talk with Chancellor Angela Merkel about next week's top jobs summit.
Meanwhile, in Brussels, US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack is lobbying the EU commission to scrap trade barriers for agricultural products as part of the ongoing talks on a EU-US free trade agreement (TTIP).
Vilsack is also travelling to Luxembourg where EU farm ministers are meeting Monday and Tuesday, as well as to Paris and Dublin for bilateral talks on the same topic.
For its part, China is lobbying Brussels this week on consumer issues: On Wednesday, the Chinese minister for industry and commerce will be in Brussels to meet consumer protection commissioner Neven Mimica.
China and the EU have several trade and consumer protection disputes.