Chinese 'vetoed Briton' for EU post

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Brussels is at the centre of a new dispute over the way it fills senior posts after an MEP said a constituent was deprived of a job because he is British.

Brussels is at the centre of a new dispute over the way it fills senior posts after an MEP said a constituent was deprived of a job because he is British.

Neil Howcroft was given a verbal offer of the job as European Union representative in Macau, the former Portuguese enclave that has now returned to Chinese rule, and sent a letter, only to lose out after months of silence from Brussels.

Mr Howcroft said he was privately told the position was going to someone else because Chris Patten, European Commissioner for external affairs, had promised that the Chinese government would have a stake in the appointment.

Neil Parish, Mr Howcroft's MEP, said: "There was a policy change ... the Chinese government was offered a choice in the nationality and I think they vetoed a Brit."

A spokesman for Mr Patten denied this and said that there was "consultation with the Macau authorities but not with the Chinese".

The commission said that when it proved practically impossible to fill the vacancy speedily, the job was opened up to a number of applicants, one of whom - a non-Briton - has been now selected.

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