May 23, 2014 / 8:28 AM / 6 years ago

UK's Cameron to lobby against candidates for EU commission president

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron will lobby fellow EU leaders to reject the two most prominent candidates to become the next president of the European Commission urging them to consider other contenders instead, two sources said.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks as part of the Conservative Party's European and Local Election campaign at HL Plastics in Denby, central England May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples

The sources, who declined to be named but are familiar with Cameron’s thinking, said he was opposed to both former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, a German socialist and president of the European Parliament, getting the top job.

Both men are seen by Cameron as far too federalist.

“It’s really important the next commission president is reform-minded. He (Cameron) will be talking to EU leaders about other candidates,” one of the sources said.

Cameron has promised to try to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU if re-elected next year and to give Britons an in/out EU membership referendum by the end of 2017.

But he has so far garnered only limited support across the EU for his proposed reforms, which include a desire to drop the 28-nation bloc’s commitment to “ever closer union”, giving national parliaments more power, and cutting red tape.

He views securing a president of the commission, the EU executive, who is broadly sympathetic to his reforms as crucial if his initiative is to be successful.

EU leaders will hold a preliminary discussion about who should get the commission job - along with other senior EU roles - at an informal dinner in Brussels on Tuesday.

Cameron’s task will not be easy. Juncker for example enjoys the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bloc’s most powerful decision maker.

Cameron is also keen to make sure that the top job is decided by EU leaders, as has traditionally been the case, rather than the European Parliament.

He is likely to try to build a consensus around a new unidentified candidate or candidates for the commission job at a meeting in Sweden early next month hosted by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Merkel and Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, are also expected to attend. The meeting is formally intended to discuss the issues that the EU needs to focus on in the next five years.

Who Cameron favours for the top commission job remains a mystery. EU and UK officials have in the past mentioned the name of Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark’s prime minister and a social democrat, as a possible candidate, among others.

Editing by Toby Chopra

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