With Jean-Claude Juncker, a powerful European voice has stepped forward in an attempt to prevent Tony Blair’s candidacy for the EU Presidency from gaining steam.

Belying his nominal low-influence as the prime minister of one of the smallest European Union member states, Juncker has established himself as a vocal and visible proponent of an ever closer Union. In Le Monde, he opposes Blair’s candidacy due to the United Kingdom’s lack of credibility as a driving force in European integration.

Ironically, The Telegraph opposes Blair for different reasons, believing that “a Blair presidency would be bad news for Britain” since his election would enlarge and aggrandise the EU Presidency leading to the loss of ever more sovereignty to Europe. The newspaper “rejoice[s] in the small-mindedness of Europe’s leaders,” who will nominate “some harmless, plodding nonentity like Belgium’s prime minister, Herman van Rompuy.”

Le Quotidien, a Luxembourg newspaper, quotes anonymous foreign policy circles as believing that Juncker’s window of opportunity was wide open in 2004, but has closed since. They cite Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, and Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister, as serious competitors.

Il Sore 24 Ore argues that the candidacies of Blair and Juncker will cancel each other out. “While for many Blair is not pro-European enough, Juncker is regarded as too European, so now the search is on for a third man. The names that are currently doing the rounds don’t exactly have us on the edge of our seats: Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, former Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen or former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel.” Felipe González, the former Spanish Prime Minister, and François Fillon, the current French Prime Minister, have also been named

With European leaders having to choose from a wide selection of candidates, and the question officially not even on the agenda of the European Council before final ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, the winner in the race to become the first EU President is far from certain. Le Monde cites a French diplomat as saying that, “a lot will depend on the Swedish presidency’s presentation of the topic. If they were to ask: ‘Who is opposed to Tony Blair?’ It is questionable how many would speak up.”

Benjamin Preisler is an intern with the New Atlanticist. He recently earned his M.A. in North American Studies and Political Science from the Free University Berlin. Translations from non-English language sources are his own.