Legal eagle Petite may fly the Breydel coop

Series Title
Series Details 24/05/01, Volume 7, Number 21
Publication Date 24/05/2001
Content Type

Date: 24/05/01

New wrinkles have appeared in the contest to head the European Commission's legal services.

The word around Breydel is that Commission President Romano Prodi's chief legal eagle Michel Petite is the hot tip for the post because of his vast experience working on the Union's treaties. But replacing former boss Jean-Louis Dewost with another Frenchman would complicate another job search.

If Petite gets the job, some fear the Germans would insist on one of their own to replace Alexander Schaub when he steps down as competition director-general. Competition policy is an extremely sensitive subject for Berlin, with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder recently making a pact with Paris to work together to protect German industries from the EU executive's anti-trust and state-aid controls.

Given Prodi's recent track record of capitulation to Schröder over Berlin's demands on transition periods for workers from accession countries, insiders say the President would have to honour his pledge to prevent DGs from becoming national fiefdoms.

If Petite gets the legal job the smart money for his replacement seems to be on Christine Roger, chief advisor to regional policy and future-of-Europe Commissioner Michel Barnier.

Roger is another treaty expert who would help Prodi get maximum leverage for the executive in the next round of institutional reforms. However, some sources believe references in her CV to the previous administration, and in particular Jacques Santer, might not go down well with the Parliament.

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