Labour Allies Give No Support to Tony Blair in His Race for EU Presidency

Thursday Tony Blair, a candidate for EU president position, failed to win the blessing of European socialists, the allies of his governing Labour Party.

Although British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged the socialists to back Blair at a meeting before an EU summit, some leaders distanced themselves from his candidacy and the party set up a three-man team to decide its position.

Blair faces opposition because of his backing for U.S. President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, but also because Britain is not among the 16 countries that use the euro currency and is seen as eurosceptic.

"My personal opinion is that the candidate ... should have an especially good relationship with (President Barack) Obama and not stand for a good working relationship with Bush," Austrian Chancellor Werner Fayman said, Reuters reports.

It was also reported, Blair is the biggest name currently linked to the job of president of the European Council, which would be created under the reforming Lisbon Treaty, along with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.

But newspapers said Brown garnered little support for Blair during a meeting with fellow European socialist leaders.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also agreed at a dinner ahead of the summit that the new president should be appointed from the main centre-right grouping, according to the Guardian.

"It would be right to describe Tony's chances as fading," one source told the newspaper, AFP reports.

News agencies also report, EU chiefs voiced growing doubts about the former U.K. prime minister, shifting the speculation to figures with a lower global profile such as Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende or former Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen.

“The shortlist hasn’t been put together yet,” Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, a socialist allied with Blair’s Labour party, told reporters as EU leaders gathered for the second day of a summit in Brussels. Once the treaty is passed “we’ll have to act quickly and show we’re capable of acting,” Bloomberg reports.

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