Danes join race to succeed Delors

SOMEBODY called Jacques Santer was the compromise on many people's lips this weekend as the likely successor to Jacques Delors. But if the Prime Minister of Luxembourg is such a suitable solution to the crisis over who should get Europe's top job, why did the Danish government field Poul Schluter, even as four of the European Union leaders were meeting in Naples in the context of the world's economic summit?

The candidacy of the former Danish prime minister, made official by Copenhagen only on Saturday, is seen by some European diplomats as a counter-attack by proxy from Britain.

They point out that John Major must in all honesty consider Mr Santer every bit as federalist as Jean-Luc Dehaene, the candidate Mr Major blocked at the Corfu summit only two weeks ago. 'Santer too is a federalist,' said one European envoy.

'So Major could hardly claim victory in having defeated Dehaene if he then goes on to accept the Luxembourger compromise.' Mr Major said at his press conference in Naples yesterday, when asked if he would use Britain's veto again: 'If necessary I wouldn't hesitate to use it again, if it was in our interest or in the interest of the European Union.'

Klaus Kinkel, the German Foreign Minister, has privately mooted the Santer card as the Franco-German choice for president of the European Commission while shuttling between European capitals recently. But the name leaked out. A Dutch newspaper published it last week (the Netherlands being irritated at its own candidate, Ruud Lubbers, being blocked by Chancellor Helmut Kohl). As one official said: 'When a name comes out it is usually in order to kill it.' Soon afterwards, the Danish made their move.

'It looks like a two-stage rocket,' said one diplomat. 'First the British decided they were cool on Santer; then they got the Danes to officially back Schluter. I don't think the Danes would have gone it alone.'

Mr Santer fulfils several criteria set by the Franco-German axis, who want the post filled by Friday's deadline so the issue does not plague their closely co- ordinated consecutive EU presidencies over the next year. He is a Christian Democrat (after 10 years of Socialists, Mr Kohl seeks one of his own kind in the job); being a Luxembourger, he is Francophone and speaks German (a key to this crisis, given the prejudices in Paris and London, is to find someone who is Francophone and non-Francophone).

A further positive aspect from the British point of view is that, despite his federalist tendencies, Mr Santer represents a country which is a fiscal paradise and a financial capital. 'The British love that,' said one European official.

Mr Schluter, on the other hand, is probably wholly unacceptable to the French, as he represents a country with as many opt-out clauses from the EU treaty as Britain.

Mr Major yesterday listed his ideal candidate as 'someone in favour of free trade rather than protectionism, in favour of enlargement, development of the concept of subsidiarity, not an ideologue'.

One European official said: 'I think it may be too late for Santer now. If Major accepts him, he is laying himself open to all sorts of accusations at home. We might have to go back to old names on the list to find another compromise candidate.'

One renewed suggestion is Anibal Cavaco Silva, Prime Minister of Portugal. 'He speaks French, Portugal is a fast-growing economy and it has strong historical ties with Britain,' said one European envoy. Some may pin their hopes on Felipe Gonzalez of Spain, but this seems unrealistic. 'No leader could leave his country in the state that Spain is in. If he leaves now the crisis there is wide open,' said one EU official.

In spite of Mr Major's assertion that he would apply the veto again, all the parties want to avert an open row. A top French official said: 'It will happen on deadline and without bloodshed.' What is certain is that only Chancellor Kohl will know for sure until the last minute.

'France has worried too much about this already,' the French official said. 'We will now leave this matter to the Germans. We know they would not betray us.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick