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EU Political Tensions Cloud WWI Centennial


Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks near a promotional campaign bus of candidate for the European Commission presidency Jean-Claude Juncker as she arrives at an European People's Party meeting in Kortrijk, June 26, 2014.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks near a promotional campaign bus of candidate for the European Commission presidency Jean-Claude Juncker as she arrives at an European People's Party meeting in Kortrijk, June 26, 2014.

European leaders gathered Thursday in Ypres, Belgium, near the battlefields of Flanders, to remember the First World War that started one century ago.

The ceremony came two days before the 100th anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in Sarajevo.

Discussing the relative peace and prosperity in Western Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the European Union.

She said “That's why I also hope that this will motivate us to take the necessary decisions for the coming five years.''

Political dustup

The mention of the next five years was a reference to the current political struggle among European Union heads of state to agree upon the next leader of the powerful European Commission.

Merkel has endorsed former prime minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker whose candidacy British Prime Minister David Cameron has relentlessly worked to block.

The British prime minister argues that if Juncker were to ascend to the coveted position, it would tilt the balance of power in favor of the European Parliament and undermine efforts to reform the Commission.

The 28 European Union heads of state will vote Friday to decide who will be the next chief executive of the European Commission.

Ahead of the vote, Cameron is said only to have the Hungarian prime minister in his fight to stop Juncker.

The British prime minister earlier had Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden willing to consider voting with him against Juncker, but those countries have now indicated they will support the former prime minister of Luxembourg who was until last year the longest serving European head of state.

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