Blair Tells EU Leaders to Draw Up Agenda Based on Voter Concerns

Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair told European Union leaders they should set out a clear agenda that addresses the concerns expressed in last month’s elections while saying he won’t seek to become European Commission president.

Voters across Europe elected members of populist anti-EU parties to the European Parliament, leading British Prime Minister David Cameron to argue against moves to install Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker as the next Commission President. Cameron said he wanted a candidate who was “not about the past.”

Blair said today the EU Council, which is made up of national leaders, should set a “clear, focused and strong platform of change” and then charge the commission with delivering it.

“What is it we want Europe to do? To make people better off, more secure, more confident about their future?” Blair asked in a speech in London. “Instead of trying to bring Europe ‘closer to the people’ by endless introspective dialog, bring it closer by concentrating on measurable outcomes,” he said.

In questions afterward, Blair said his conversations with EU leaders, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, had left him convinced they wanted Britain to stay in the bloc. He also ruled himself out of running for the Commission presidency.

“No, I’m not a candidate,” he said. “That’s not going to happen. We should look for the best person to do the job.”

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