Merkel seeks unity as Europe argues over EU job

AP News
Posted: Jun 02, 2014 10:04 AM
Merkel seeks unity as Europe argues over EU job

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Monday to try to keep Europe united as leaders argue over one of the European Union's top jobs, stressing that she wants an increasingly skeptical Britain to stay in the EU.

Choosing a successor to Jose Manuel Barroso as president of the EU's executive Commission has become a political headache for Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The conservative European People's Party, which includes Merkel's bloc, finished first in May's European Parliament elections after campaigning for former Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker to get the job.

Britain opposes Juncker, while Merkel has drawn criticism at home for appearing cool toward him after the election. In Germany, the vote was often billed as giving voters a say on the next Commission president.

Merkel first said the EU's agenda could be implemented "by him but also by many others." Days later she clearly endorsed Juncker, a veteran advocate of closer EU integration who says leaders shouldn't be "blackmailed" into rejecting him.

Merkel said Monday she is working for Juncker to get "the necessary majority" but wants the decision reached "in a European spirit."

"A European spirit means always working to get the highest possible amount of agreement," she said. "And so, for example, I'm not indifferent to whether Great Britain is a member of the European Union or not."

Cameron, who has promised his country a referendum on continued EU membership in 2017, said the EU needs leaders who understand a need for change. The anti-EU UK Independence Party topped the polls in Britain.

"We need a Europe that respects nation states, a Europe that gets the message from last week's elections that the EU has become too big, too bossy and too interfering," the BBC quoted Cameron as saying in central England.


Jill Lawless contributed to this report from London.