Merkel: No drama over Juncker EC president vote

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David Cameron & Jean-Claude JunckerImage source, Getty Images/afp
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David Cameron opposes Mr Juncker's instincts for closer ties with Europe

Jean-Claude Juncker should become the next president of the European Commission - even if there is no unanimity over the issue, German chancellor Angela Merkel has said.

She told the German Parliament a "qualified majority" of European leaders would be acceptable.

David Cameron says he will press the issue to a vote if Mr Juncker is nominated at an EU summit on Friday.

But Mrs Merkel said there would be "no drama" if he was chosen by a majority.

Previously, the top job in Brussels bureaucracy has usually only been given with the unanimous agreement of at least the bigger countries, including Britain.

'Not an arch villain'

The British prime minister has fought a lone campaign to block Mr Juncker becoming the next EC president, saying his appointment would "ignore the clear pro-change and pro-reform message" delivered by European voters in last month's election.

If Mr Juncker's name is tabled at Friday's EU summit in Brussels, Mr Cameron has said he would demand an "unprecedented" vote to put on the public record EU leaders' views on the ex-Luxembourg prime minister.

Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Juncker said he expected to be the next EC president by the end of the week "if common sense prevails".

And in a dig at Mr Cameron, he joked that common sense was "very unequally distributed - so one will have to wait".

Former Conservative chancellor, the pro-European Ken Clarke, said he did not know what Mr Juncker was supposed to have done wrong, insisting he was "not an arch villain".

"The idea that he is an arch-federalist, a sort of public enemy number one, which the media have made him in the last few days, is slightly exaggerated," he told BBC Radio 4's World at One.

And Business Secretary Vince Cable said Mr Cameron's handling of the row had damaged Britain's influence in Brussels.

But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was "proud" to have a prime minister "who fights for Britain".