Merkel made her statement after talks in Sweden hosted by Prime
Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and also attended by British Prime
Minister David Cameron and Dutch premier Mark Rutte.
The informal meeting was held amid a campaign by Cameron, who has
promised a referendum on Britain's continued membership of the
European Union, to prevent the federalist former Luxembourg prime
minister being nominated to head the bloc's executive arm.
"I have said that for me Jean-Claude Juncker is the candidate for
the office of Commission president and that I want to have him as
the Commission president," Merkel told a news conference under an
unusually hot Swedish sun at the government's country mansion of
Who becomes the next Commission head has generated heated debate
since May's EU parliamentary elections, with the risk Britain could
be pushed closer to leaving the EU if its opposition to Juncker is
The four leaders talked until around 1 a.m. on Tuesday over coffee
in Harpsund's piano room, with Merkel's position unchanged in
private, a source at Cameron's office said. Cameron had hoped the
meeting could give more impetus to an alliance to block Juncker but
the source said discussions were "constructive but not resolved".
Britain regards Juncker as an old-style European federalist and says
someone more open to reforming the EU and reducing the powers of
Brussels should be picked, reflecting a widespread protest vote
against the bloc last month.
With Cameron promising Britons an in-out EU membership referendum in
2017 if re-elected next year, Juncker's appointment may see a
political backlash in the UK.
"Obviously the approach that the European Union takes between now
and then will be very important," Cameron said, saying Europe had to
be more open and needed leaders "capable of taking the European
Union forward in that direction." "Obviously if the European Union
doesn't go in that direction that would be unhelpful," he said.
One of the British leader's problems is that he cannot afford to
alienate Merkel if he is to succeed in renegotiating his country's
relationship with Europe prior to holding a referendum.
Merkel, criticized by German media for her initial reticence in
giving Juncker full-hearted support, has indicated she does not want
to isolate Britain and would prefer a broad consensus if possible.
But asked about how the debate should be conducted, she said:
"Threats are not a part of it. It's not part of the way we act."
Reinfeldt and Rutte took no clear public position for or against
Juncker, saying that the policy agenda - like reforms to the EU
budget and labor markets - for the next Commission had to be agreed
"We have agreed that the future policy priorities of the EU must be
decided before we can decide on appointments of different top jobs,"
But Reinfeldt has made it clear that he has concerns with Junker's
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"We don't think that you should choose party candidates a long way
in advance. That disqualifies a large number of people from being
candidates for these top jobs," Reinfeldt told Reuters after the
Juncker has the support of the European People's Party, the largest
center-right political grouping in the European Parliament, which
named him as its candidate before last month's European elections.
He may be the front runner for the job, but other possible
candidates have also been suggested.
While IMF head Christine Lagarde has ruled herself out of the
running for the job of European Commission president, British
officials have made clear center-left Danish Prime Minister Helle
Thorning-Schmidt would also be acceptable.
Other names include outgoing Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen
while Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is another potential
Cameron has said EU leaders and not the European Parliament should
nominate the candidate for Commission president, arguably the most
powerful job in the bloc's institutions with major influence over
policy affecting 500 million Europeans.
Leaders of the EU legislature have argued that the assembly should
play a defining role in choosing the next Commission president,
citing the bloc's governing Lisbon treaty which says the nominee
should be chosen taking the elections into account.
EU leaders have mandated European Council President Herman Van
Rompuy to propose a package of appointments for several top EU jobs,
including the Commission presidency, if possible in time for a
summit at the end of this month.
Under the Lisbon treaty, the decision is subject to qualified
majority rule. Cameron appears to be short of a blocking minority
unless Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has said Juncker has
no automatic right to the job, is willing to block the veteran
(Additional reporting by Annika Breidhardt in Berlin. Writing by
Alistair Scrutton. Editing by Niklas Pollard and Paul Taylor)
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