A senior politician in Germany has cast doubt on the suitability of British former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be president of the European Council.
The chief whip of Germany’s Free Democrats – the junior partner in the country’s new coalition – said he would prefer someone from a smaller country.
Mr Blair is the most high-profile name in the frame for the new EU job.
But the prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, has emerged as a serious rival.
While some countries have expressed support for Mr Blair’s candidacy, others are cooler on the idea. Germany, the most powerful nation in the EU, has yet to declare its position.
The chief whip of Germany’s Free Democrats, Joerg van Essen, explained his party’s position.
“We know Tony Blair for a very long time but I must admit there is a sympathy in my party for candidates from a smaller country,” he told the BBC.
“We want to bring European countries closer together, and I think if someone is from a smaller country these people are more sensitive and they know the problems of the smaller ones, and I think that would be helpful for Europe. Europe is too dominated by the biggest ones.”