Backgrounder: Top candidates for EU president

20:45, November 19, 2009      

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The European Union (EU) will hold a special summit Thursday in Brussels to decide new appointments to three top jobs under the Lisbon Treaty.

They include its first full-time president, a foreign policy chief, and head for the Council Secretariat.

The following are key facts about front-runners for the EU president.

Herman Van Rompuy, Belgian Prime Minister

Born in October 1947 in Brussels, the low-profile Belgian politician served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Budget from 1993 to 1999.

He has won high praise for his work in helping drive down the country's pubic debt.

As a senior member of the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party, Van Rompuy was elected as president of the Chamber of Representatives in July 2007 and became prime minister in December2008.

After taking office last year, he has showed great skill in resolving conflicts and brought political stability to the linguistically divided country.

Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister

Born in May 1953, the British politician was elected as leader of the Labor Party in 1994, becoming the youngest to hold the post in the party's history.

Under his leadership, the party adopted the term "New Labor" and abandoned decades-long policies. Blair won a landslide victory in the 1997 general election and became the prime minister.

Blair, the longest-serving Labor prime minister, is much credited with his handling of domestic policies. However, his support for the U.S.-led Iraq War incurred strong criticism within and outside his party, which eventually led to his resignation in June 2007.

On the day he resigned as prime minister, he was appointed the envoy of the United Nations' Quartet of Middle East negotiators.

Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg

Born in December 1954, Juncker has been Prime Minister of Luxembourg since January 1995, the longest-serving head of government among EU member states. He is also the Minister of Finance, a post that he has held since July 1989.

As a key architect of the Maastricht Treaty in February 1992, he has participated in many major negotiations and gained great prominence in the EU. In January 2005, he assumed the presidency of the Eurogroup, a meeting of finance ministers of the Eurozone.

Source: Xinhua
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