Romania’s president interested in top EU job after incumbent announces early exit

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is seeking to become the next European Council president, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with his plans.

The post will likely be open early due to the incumbent Charles Michel’s unexpected announcement that he’ll run for a seat in parliament.

Iohannis reportedly is one of a short list of former EU leaders including Italy’s Mario Draghi and Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel whose names have been touted as possible candidates for the job, the most senior position in the European Union.

Iohannis’s second term as president ends at the end of the year and he isn’t eligible to run again. A spokesperson from Iohannis’s office declined to comment on the president’s plans.

However, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said Mr Iohannis, 63, stood a chance.

„It’s a real opportunity (for us) because we are well positioned and Iohannis could take the job in May,” meaning he’d have to resign as president.

The council president chairs the meetings of the 27 EU leaders and represents the bloc on issues related to foreign policy.

Michel’s announcement has thrown the process of allocating the EU’s senior roles — a complicated system that takes into account candidates’ nationality and political affiliation — into chaos, kicking off the inevitable horse-trading months ahead of schedule.

Typically, negotiations begin following the European elections, after which the posts of European Commission president, council president and others are selected.

Draghi met with executives in Milan as part of his research for a report he’s preparing on European competitiveness for the commission. However, the former European Central Bank chief isn’t interested in an EU job, according to an official briefed on his thinking.

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