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Europe

Blair in last bid for EU presidency

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-09

British media say former prime minister Tony Blair has launched a last ditch attempt to revive his flagging campaign for the presidency of the European Union, amid reports Belgian premier Herman Van Rompuy has emerged as the frontrunner.

AFP - Former British prime minister Tony Blair has made a flurry of phone calls to European leaders in a last ditch effort to boost his chances of becoming EU president, according to a report Monday.

Blair spoke to several leaders in recent days including EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, as they gathered in Germany for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, The Times newspaper said.

Blair's chances of winning the newly created post appeared to be flagging, with Belgium Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy a frontrunner.

"Tony got to the stage where he had to court some people, if only to assess whether the game is up or not," an unnamed source told the newspaper.

"He will never say never, but the mood is not very positive. Even supportive people are indicating the consensus is for a committee chairman not a chief."

France and Germany were expected to join forces to choose a new-look European Union head and did not reportedly favour Blair, despite British Prime Minister Gordon Brown campaigning personally on behalf of his predecessor.

Blair appeared to be tainted by his support for the unpopular Iraq war and Britain's failure to adopt the euro or join Europe's passport-free Schengen zone.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband stands as the favourite to secure the other post created under the bloc's Lisbon Treaty, that of EU foreign policy supremo -- despite his insistence he is not a candidate.

Figures in Britain's ruling Labour Party are said to be beseeching Miliband not to consider the move amid fears he could be persuaded, according to the newspaper, citing unnamed sources.

Date created : 2009-11-09

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