BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders meet on Sunday to decide who wins the bloc's top posts, with Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans in pole position to be named the EU's next chief executive, diplomats and officials said.
Following are comments by EU leaders as they arrived for the summit in Brussels.
BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER BOYKO BORISSOV
"We have our 'spitzenkandidat', we have a leading candidate who won the EU election – Weber. I am coming from the EPP now and we firmly stand behind our candidate. There is no logic that the winner should not be head of the European Commission."
"I have never been against someone. If you had listened to what I have said a year ago, Timmermans is one of the best commissioners, a wonderful person, very principled, no question about it. But we are not speaking about the person Weber and the person Timmermans. The European People's Party won over the European Socialists. Full stop. We are not making a comment on personal qualities. The European voter has spoken, putting Weber first and Timmermans second. I hope that no one of us thinks his is superior to the European voter."
"I do not believe we can end this evening with a decision."
IRISH PRIME MINISTER LEO VARADKAR
"The vast majority of EPP prime ministers don't believe that we should give up the presidency quite so easily, without a fight."
LATVIA PRIME MINISTER KRISJANIS KARINS
"We need a good balance, a good geographical balance, a good political balance, I think it's good to look for a good gender balance. As of this evening, it's 20 before 7 o'clock, I don't see that yet, so I think we will have an interesting time. We have to do a lot of talking, let's see how far we get but it's that balance that I don't see crystalising."
"(Does he expect a breakthrough at the meeting?) It's a little bit like asking if it will rain tomorrow afternoon at 3 o'clock. None of us really know, there is a chance, right, chance of rain, chance of a breakthrough but I don't see that gelling yet but the evening is still young in terms of Council evenings, so let's see. (On his bets) That's something for the bookkeepers to do, I don't do that. I don't work in politics with red lines. I look for things that people can say yes to, not that people say no to."
PORTUGUESE PRIME MINISTER ANTONIO COSTA
"(A Timmermans deal?) Nothing is closed until the 28 speaks tonight."
"From the beginning, Timmermans had the best conditions to become the European Commission president. Every political family has to be represented and we have to find a balance in different fields, as gender, north-south. I am optimistic."
LUXEMBOURG PRIME MINISTER XAVIER BETTEL
"All the spitzenkandidat candidates are very much alive. They have been resurrected."
"There will be a breakthrough tonight. I am very confident that we will be able to find good deals tonight. For me, gender balance is important for top jobs."
ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER GIUSEPPE CONTE
"I'm ready for what could be a long marathon tonight
Timmermans is a candidacy that we will evaluate."
EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
"(On what makes a good Commission president) Someone who is able to listen. Frans is one of those who has to be taken seriously into account when it comes to the appointment of the president of the Commission."
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL
"We will make our proposal for the Commission presidency and we will also discuss other top jobs. It looks like the talks will not be very easy."
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY (ON BREXIT)
"I have always been very clear that I think the best approach for the UK is first of all ensure that we are delivering on the vote that took place in 2016, leaving the European Union but we do that with a good deal so that we can do that in an orderly way. I still think we negotiated a good deal. I wasn't able to get a majority in parliament for that deal, it will be up to my successor to get that majority, deliver on that vote and take us forward."
POLISH PRIME MINISTER MATEUSZ MORAWIECKI
"Frans Timmermans is not a candidate of compromise. Frans Timmermans is obviously a candidate who divides Europe and certainly does not understand central Europe, does not understand Europe that is emerging from a post-communist collapse."
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
"It's important for me that we are able to emerge from this Council with answers and the new team."
"This is the new team that we are going to decide on, for three of the names today, for the ECB probably a little later."
"There should be two men and two women (referring to the council of EU leaders who is responsible for nominating four key positions - including the president of the European Commission and the president of the ECB)."
DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE
"I hope that we make a decision tonight. And that we don't just get to a choice about the chief of the European Commission but if possible to a whole package."
"Yeah, I'm not going to talk about names, I also hear all kinds of rumours. We're going to try to get a decision tonight."
"That you think that one candidate or another may have a chance and then that appears to change again. So we're going to calmly wait tonight."
"It's still really unclear who will become the President of the Commission. The fact is in Osaka there were a number of European countries, who of course also talked about the situation, but there are no concrete compromises on the table."
CZECH PRIME MINISTER ANDREJ BABIS
"The V4 (Visegrad group of central European countries) said at the beginning that we are against the Spitzencandidaten."
"(Timmermans for Commission president?) I'm afraid that this person is not really the right one to unite Europe, not divide it more. In the past we have a feeling that it was not very positive on our region and I am asking: where are the women?"
(Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey, Robin Emmott, Andreas Rinke, Daphne Psaledakis, Alexandra Regida, Peter Maushagen, Belen Carreno, Francesco Guarascio, Foo Yun Chee and Tsvetelia Tsolova)
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