Juncker seen as possible candidate for Council of Europe post

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Jean-Claude Juncker, who earlier this month resigned as Luxembourg's prime minister, could be a potential candidate for secretary-general of the Council of Europe, sources told EurActiv Germany.

The current secretary-general, Norwegian Thorbjørn Jagland, who has been in office since 2009, has already announced that he will not run for a second term thus sparking the discussion over who is going to be Jagland's successor.

The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. Founded in 1949, the organisation today has 47 member states.

The Strasbourg-based Council is an entirely separate body from the EU, and cannot make binding laws.

Jagland, as well as his predecessor Terry Davis from the UK, were both social democrats. It is therefore expected that conservative parties will lay claim to the position for one of their own.

According to sources, five names are circulating so far. The Czech Ŝtefan Füle, who is currently holding office as EU Commissioner for Enlargement, is seen as a possible strategic link between the Council and the EU.

The president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Jean-Claude Mignon from France, is said to be interested in the post while Serbia's former president Boris Tadić could be in a good position as a representative of a smaller European nation.

European liberals are rumoured to be promoting the German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, though observers say her chances are rather slim.

In the meantime, insiders do not rule out a surprise that Juncker as an EU heavy-weight could enter the competition for the office as he also could strengthen the weight of the Council of Europe.

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