Germany backs EU chief for second term

Brussels: German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw her weight behind Donald Tusk to retain one of the European Union's top jobs ahead of an EU summit today, despite staunch opposition from his home country of Poland.

The 28 EU leaders are due to decide as their summit starts in Brussels today on who will be president of the EU Council for the next 2 years. It is one of the bloc's most prestigious jobs, and involves chairing summits and coordinating the work of the member countries.

Poland's nationalist government has proposed little-known Polish EU lawmaker Jacek Saryusz-Wolski to replace Tusk a former prime minister who has a long and bitter rivalry with the leader of Poland's current governing party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Diplomats from several member nations say Warsaw has little or no support, while Tusk has strong backing. Merkel offered Tusk public support in a pre-summit speech to lawmakers in Berlin.

"I see the re-election of Donald Tusk as a sign of stability for the entire EU," she said.

Malta, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, will be looking right up to the beginning of the summit for a way to preserve the consensus and have everyone back one candidate.

However, it appears likely that the matter will go to a vote, with Tusk being re-elected by an overwhelming majority.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said today that Poland will do everything it can to block a vote.