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EU Parliament vote on Juncker set for July 15

EU lawmakers are to vote July 15, a day earlier than scheduled, on Jean-Claude Juncker's controversial nomination to take the helm of the powerful European Commission, the European Parliament said Thursday.

STRASBOURG, France: EU lawmakers are to vote July 15, a day earlier than scheduled, on Jean-Claude Juncker's controversial nomination to take the helm of the powerful European Commission, the European Parliament said Thursday.

Despite strong opposition from British Prime Minister David Cameron, Juncker was designated last week to be next Commission president by European Union leaders who voted 26-2 in his favour.

But he needs to muster an absolute majority of 376 votes in the 751-seat Parliament before officially winning the job, and British Labour MEPs and lawmakers from Hungary may join the Tories in opposing Juncker.

The vote was brought forward to allow sufficient time before EU leaders meet the next day over dinner in Brussels to decide on a package of other top EU jobs.

One job available -- that of EU foreign policy chief currently held by Catherine Ashton -- will require the support of the new Commission president, who will begin a new five-year mandate later this year.

With the Commission top job going to a conservative, Ashton's replacement could well go to a centre-left politician. One name increasingly cited is Italy's new Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini.

Other concerns in the horse-trading over posts will involve gender, small versus large nations, southerners and northerners, as well as making a place for new eastern members of the bloc.

Stepping down in November is European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, a former Belgian premier whose recently created and highly sensitive job is to build consensus between leaders of the bloc's very distinct nations.

Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has been tipped as a favourite but is believed to face resistance from France. Italian ex- premier Enrico Letta's name too is cited but the country's new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is reportedly opposed.

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