Dutchman Timmermans in pole position for top EU job

Dutch socialist politician Frans Timmermans is on course to be named as the EU’s next chief executive, diplomats and officials said on Sunday, hours before European Union leaders meet to decide who wins the bloc’s top posts in Europe.

Barring unexpectedly tough resistance from eastern European countries, Timmermans is set to be chosen after talks between France and Germany at the G20, two diplomats and one European Parliament adviser said.

If confirmed, the choice would mark a victory for centrists and liberals, who challenged what they saw as an increasingly German-dominated EU at the top ranks in Brussels.

“It looks to be Timmermans for the European Commission president,” one diplomat involved in the talks told Reuters, a view echoed by a second envoy when asked about the process of selection for five top posts for a new five-year mandate.

Up for grabs are the presidencies of the EU’s executive Commission, the parliament, the European Council of EU governments, the EU’s foreign policy chief and the head of the European Central Bank, which governs the euro currency.

Timmermans, who is currently a senior European Commission official and was a Dutch foreign minister, is expected to be confirmed as the choice to replace Jean-Claude Juncker at a summit dinner of 28 leaders in Brussels starting at 1600 GMT.

German parliamentary adviser Tobias Teuscher told Reuters that European Council President Donald Tusk has proposed giving the post to the Socialist and Democrats political bloc, of which Timmermans was the lead candidate in May European Parliament elections.

But Timmermans is unpalatable to eastern EU states such as Hungary and Poland for his role in the bloc’s rule of law probes against their nationalist governments.

With France and Germany long at odds over not just the candidates but the rules of the job search itself, a Tuesday deadline to choose the head of the European Parliament has given urgency to a task that could otherwise drag on for months, diplomats say.

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