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European Union

Britain's Cameron to call for vote if Juncker's nomination pushed through

Britain's Prime Minister Cameron plans to call for a vote of EU leaders over Jean-Claude Juncker's nomination for the bloc's top job. The British leader wants a reformer and someone who was chosen by the bloc's members.

Several days ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders, the British premier, David Cameron, announced a bold, "unprecedented" move: he would challenge center-right candidate Jean-Claude Juncker by putting his nomination for president of the European Commission to a vote of EU leaders.

"[Prime Minister Cameron] will make clear that if the European Council seeks to proceed with the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker, then the prime minister will expect there to be a vote on that," Cameron's spokesperson told reporters in London on Monday.

"My understanding is that it would be unprecedented," she added.

The statement came just before a scheduled meeting at Downing Street between Cameron and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

Juncker was put forward as the candidate to take over from Jose Manuel Barroso as head of the European Commission in May after his center-right European People's Party (EPP) won 28.5 percent in the EU parliamentary vote, the most of any party. The 59-year-old is a well-seasoned politician, serving nearly 20 years as prime minister of Luxembourg and holding the Eurogroup presidency.

While some EU members, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and politicians from the center-left, have given their public support to Juncker, Cameron has taken issue with his nomination, fearing the consequences of placing power in the hands of a politician he considers an arch-federalist incapable of bringing reforms needed to placate rising euroskepticism.

Cameron: EU leaders should choose

Cameron has furthermore negatively depicted the tradition of allowing the largest group in the European Parliament to nominate a candidate to head the commission.

What would happen if Britain left the EU?

Ahead of a meeting with several EU leaders in Sweden two weeks ago, Cameron said it was a matter of principle.

"As the democratically elected leaders of Europe, we should be the ones who choose who should run these institutions, rather than accept some new process, which was never agreed," he said.

With the appointment of Juncker, the British premier has also threatened to push forward a referendum which could see the UK exit from the 28-member bloc. He originally promised the referendum for 2017 if he won re-election next year.

kms/se (AFP, Reuters)

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