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Swedish EU Presidency - Intensive work to decide top jobs

In just over a week's time, the EU heads of state and government will meet to decide which three people will get the Union's new top jobs. At a press briefing in Brussels today, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt talked about the preparations and what the three posts involve.

Under the Treaty of Lisbon, which will enter into force on 1 December, three new posts will be created. The European Council will get a permanent President, who will be appointed for two and a half years with the possibility of holding a second term of office. The EU will also get a foreign minister, known as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who will also be Vice-President of the European Commission. In addition, a Secretary-General of the Council Secretariat will be appointed.

Consultations still ongoing

In the corridors in Brussels, there has been speculation on names for a long time, and in recent weeks Fredrik Reinfeldt has telephoned the other 26 heads of state and government to sound them out. The Prime Minister is now continuing his consultations, at the same time as preparations are underway for the extra informal summit in Brussels next week, where the EU leaders will agree on three names. The candidates will then take up their posts at the same time as the Lisbon Treaty enters into force on 1 December.

Fredrik Reinfeldt notes that it is a challenge to get all 27 Member States to reach agreement. There are many factors to take into consideration, and in the Lisbon Treaty it says that both geographic and demographic factors must be taken into account in the selection of the three people.

“We must of course consider the whole Union in this, and look for a balance of candidates based on many different aspects: male or female, from a large or small Member State, in the east or the west, the north or the south", said Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Does not want to speculate on those being discussed

He emphasises that it is important to have an open dialogue among the heads of state and government about which individuals the EU wants to see in the three posts, but he also stresses that this type of negotiation must not take place via the media.

“It is my job to take responsibility for the process and show respect for the candidates' possible current duties. I have learnt from experience to be careful about speculating on the names being discussed", says Fredrik Reinfeldt.

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