European Union leaders will meet next week to appoint the 27-nation bloc's first president and foreign policy chief - newly created positions designed to boost the EU's voice on the world stage - the Swedish EU presidency said Wednesday.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he has discussed candidates with other heads of state and government and expects leaders to make a decision at a special summit on November 19 in Brussels. Reinfeldt is leading the effort because Sweden currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pushed for his predecessor, Tony Blair, to be appointed EU president despite reservations among some European counterparts.
Other names mentioned in speculation include Dutch premier Jan Peter Balkenende, Belgian leader Herman Van Rompuy, Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncker and Finnish ex-premier Paavo Lipponen. Former Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga and former Irish president Mary Robinson are among the women being mentioned.