Diplomats said EU leaders have opted for little-known compromise candidate Belgian Premier Herman Van Rompuy to become the bloc's first full-time president.
Envoys added that the 27 leaders have also agreed to appoint Britain's EU commissioner Catherine Ashton as the bloc's new foreign policy chief, replacing Spaniard Javier Solana. Ashton has been the EU's trade commissioner since last year.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been formally announced at summit talks Thursday.
The choice of Van Rompuy signaled the leaders were not eager to have a high-profile personality represent the EU abroad. The two new posts are meant to bolster the EU's influence overseas.