Left-wing leaders back Juncker for top Europe job

Jean-Claude Juncker Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Cameron says that Mr Juncker would advance too much of a federalist agenda

Jean-Claude Juncker's bid to head the European Commission has received a boost with the backing of nine left-wing heads of government.

The leaders said it was important to respect the spirit of the European parliament elections, which had returned a centre-right majority.

Mr Juncker is the centre-right's candidate for the post.

The announcement is expected to further isolate the UK government, which opposes Mr Juncker's candidacy.

The nine leaders met in Paris at the invitation of French President Francois Hollande, ahead of a summit next week.

The summit will decide who is to head the Commission, the European Union's executive body.

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged the UK will oppose "right up to the end" the candidacy of former Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker to be European Commission president.

He has said Mr Juncker was too pro-federalist and the appointment would make EU reforms harder to achieve.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Cameron had been hoping to persuade Italian PM Matteo Renzi to join him in opposing Mr Juncker

Other countries with centre-right leaders, such as Germany and Spain, have already come out in support of Mr Juncker.

Among the leaders present in Paris was the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who Mr Cameron had been hoping to pull over to his side of the argument.

Mr Renzi seems to have gone along with what the rest of the European left wants, says the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris.

This involves some kind of guarantee about a shift in Commission policy towards their anti-austerity economic agenda, in return for backing Mr Juncker, the BBC's Hugh Schofield our correspondent adds.

Saturday's announcement will be more uncomfortable news for Mr Cameron, who is looking less and less likely to get his way with an alternative candidate, our correspondent says.

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