Former European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet (photo) entered the tussle over who leads the European Commission, backing Jean-Claude Juncker’s bid to win the post over U.K. opposition.
Trichet, a Frenchman who as ECB chief until 2011 helped steer the euro area’s response to the sovereign debt crisis as Juncker led meetings of the region’s finance ministers, said the former Luxembourg prime minister has the attributes needed to head the European Union’s executive arm.
“I have worked a lot with Jean-Claude Juncker and I could appreciate enormously the man and the professional,” Trichet told CNBC on Wednesday. “I can tell you that when you have to coordinate the action of 15 democracies, 16 democracies, in this extraordinarily difficult time, you have to prove some qualities.”
The question of who leads the commission after its mandate expires in October has exposed divisions within the 28-nation bloc. Most leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have sided with the directly elected European Parliament in supporting Juncker, while a group led by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron says Juncker is too strong an advocate of a centralized EU to represent all the bloc’s nations.
Merkel and Cameron were unable to reconcile their differences when they met with the prime ministers of Sweden and the Netherlands on Tuesday. The EU’s leaders are due to discuss appointments and the bloc’s agenda when they next meet in Brussels on June 26-27. [Bloomberg]