EU parliament job set aside for eastern Europe
Italian centre-right MEP Mario Mauro has dropped his bid to become EU parliament president, leaving the path clear for Polish conservative deputy Jerzy Buzek to take up the post.
Mr Mauro made the announcement on Sunday (5 July) following a congress of the centre-right EPP faction in Athens. The move is designed to avoid "unnecessary and damaging divisions" in the group, he said.
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The EPP will formally nominate Mr Buzek as its candidate on 7 July.
His appointment has to be confirmed by an EU parliament vote on 14 July. But the EPP is expected to make a deal with the socialist group, giving its man the job for the next two and a half years, followed by German centre-left MEP Martin Schulz in 2011.
Poland's Mr Buzek would become the first politician from one of the ex-Iron Curtain member states to hold a senior EU post if he gets through.
The 69-year old chemist has spent the past five years on the parliament's industry committee. He was prime minister of Poland in 1997 and an anti-Communism activist in the 1980s.
"I am a Pole. I will never forget where I came from. But in the European Parliament we represent Europeans," he told Polish TV on Sunday.
"We managed to convince the others that five years after enlargement a representative from one of the new member states deserves to get one of the important positions in the EU," Polish conservative MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski told the Rzeczpospolita daily.
Speculation has it that Mr Mauro will get the prestigious role of foreign affairs committee chairman in the next parliament. Italy has also indicated that its foreign minister, Franco Frattini, may compete for the new post of EU foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Poland is still shooting for a strong financial portfolio - such as competition or single market - in the European Commission.