British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday said Jean-Claude Juncker was the “wrong person” to head the European Commission as he arrived for an EU leader’s summit in Brussels.
Juncker “is the wrong person,” Cameron said, arriving at the summit that is expected to overwhelmingly confirm the former Luxemburg prime minister’s appointment.
“He is not the right person to take this organization forward,” Cameron added.
Cameron has been bitterly opposed to the nomination of Juncker to lead the European Commission and tried unsuccessfully to find the backing of like-minded leaders to block his candidacy.
Cameron sees Juncker, who until last year was Europe’s longest-serving leader, as a tired face and a federalist unlikely to promote reforms which could convince British voters to remain inside the EU in a referendum which could be held in 2017.
The disagreement comes a month after anti-EU parties made sweeping gains in European elections, with outright victories for the UK Independence Party in Britain and the National Front in France.
EU leaders gathered Thursday in the Belgian town of Ypres, among World War I’s bloodiest battlefields, to mark 100 years since the conflict started.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, whose is also expected to back Juncker’s candidacy, arrived to the summit without making a comment.
On Thursday, Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, urged EU colleagues to “compromise” with Britain to defuse tensions.
Away from disagreements over top jobs, European leaders are also set to discuss the conflict playing out on their doorsteps in Ukraine.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova are set to sign landmark association and free trade accords with the EU on Friday.