UK turns heat on EU leaders

British Prime Minister David Cameron with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
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British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for “bold leadership” in a newspaper article laying out his criteria for the new president of the European Commission.

British Prime Minister David Cameron with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
British Prime Minister David Cameron with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

This comes as Britain leads a campaign, with Sweden and the Netherlands, to block the candidacy of Luxembourg’s ex-prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has publicly backed Mr Juncker.

The article is appearing in newspapers in the Irish Republic, France and Germany, BBC reported. Mr Juncker has been nominated for the position by party groups in Europe. But Mr Cameron is strongly opposed to Mr Juncker’s belief in a closer political union between EU member states and has described Brussels as “too big” and “too bossy”.

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young says that, in a highly unusual move, Mr Cameron has decided to appeal directly to voters in other EU countries to make his case for a president – considered the most powerful job in Brussels – who can change the way the Commission is run, not deliver more of the same.

In his newspaper article the prime minister says that, for many Europeans, the World Cup is the issue that seems most interesting right now.

“Only a small minority will be following the debate about the presidency of European Commission.
“But this is important because it goes to the heart of the way the EU takes decisions, the need to respect its rules, and the appropriate relationship between the nations of Europe and the EU institutions.

“The results of last month’s European elections showed people were disillusioned with the way the EU was working.

“They are demanding change so it focuses on what they care about: growth and jobs. And they want the EU to help them, not dictate to them.”

This was clear, he wrote, through the rise of anti-EU parties, the fall in turnout in the majority of countries and the decline in support for the European Parliament’s largest political groups. Mr Cameron also said Europeans must focus on finding the best candidate for Commission president.

The ideal candidate, he said, would be “someone who can deliver reform; driving growth and creating jobs; and accepting that Europe’s needs may best be served by action at the national level”.

“An honest and trusted broker able to re-engage Europe’s voters.”

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