Herman Van Rompuy:"Nigel doesn't deserve too much attention"

The president of the European council, Belgium's Herman Van Rompuy, has opened the way for an outsider and not one of the five designated candidates to become the next president of the European commission, the executive arm of the EU.

Speaking on Flemish TV he insisted that the next commission president would have to get majority support in the new parliament and qualified majority support in the European council, the gathering of EU heads of state and government. The EU's Lisbon treaty says that in choosing the next commission president account must be taken of the power balance in parliament, but doesn't set out to what degree this must be the case. The parliament's five largest groups have anointed candidates, but Mr Van Rompuy wouldn't go as far as to exclude an outsider.

Mr Van Rompuy also snubbed Britain's Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader. Asked about bitter exchanges in parliament the council president described Mr Farage as "the fauna and flora of the EP that didn't deserve too much attention".