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Why the E.U. chose its president

Belgian Prime Minsiter Herman Van Rompuy, who was chosen as the new E.U. president

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: European Union leaders have chosen their first ever "European president." There had been a lot of talk that the title should go to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Sure, he was used to rubbing shoulders with world leaders. But Europe went with someone a little more unassuming, as Christopher Werth reports


Christopher Werth: Europe's new top job goes to Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, a figure that until now was relatively unknown.

The speculation in Brussels is that many E.U. leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, didn't want an E.U. president who might overshadow them on the world stage.

Graham Mather is with the European Policy Forum:

Graham Mather: So at the end of the day, you're not electing the king of the world, you're choosing someone to broker compromises between the 27 member states.

But while Merkel was the key decision maker, Germany never put its own candidate forward. Merkel may be keeping her powder dry for when it comes time to choose a new president of the European Central Bank in 2011.

Mather: The understood arrangement is that Axel Weber, the head of the German Bundesbank, will become the next president of the European Central Bank.

Mather says the position is important to Germany because it wants tight controls over inflationary policy in the eurozone, and how banks are rescued in any future economic crisis.

In London, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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