Patten dropped as possible EU president

BRUSSELS, June 19 (UPI) -- Chris Patten appears to have been dropped from the list of possible candidates for president of the EU Commission, the ANSA news agency said Saturday.

The Italian news service quoted senior EU sources as saying the two strongest candidates, Patten and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, had in effect cancelled each other.


Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who currently holds the presidency of the European Union, would not confirm the report.

An EU summit in Brussels that was supposed to choose a successor to Romano Prodi as the chief executive of the union's bureaucracy in Brussels adjourned after failing to reach an agreement.

Patten, the British commissioner in charge of EU foreign policy, had the backing of Britain and Italy. Verhofstadt, was supported by France and Germany.

President Jacques Chirac said he was blocking Patten because Britain is not a participant in two key EU measures -- the euro currency, and the Schengen agreement that guarantees free border access.

But EU sources say France also objects to Patten because his knowledge of French "is not adequate for the role,"


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