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Britain will have to send a commissioner to Brussels -incoming Commission head

Credit: REUTERS/PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW

Britain will have to propose a candidate for a commissioner in the next European Commission if it still is a member of the European Union after October 31, incoming Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.

HELSINKI, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Britain will have to propose a candidate for a commissioner in the next European Commission if it still is a member of the European Union after October 31, incoming Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.

The outgoing EU executive of Jean-Claude Juncker is supposed to end its five-year term on Oct 31, although a delay of one month is almost certain because the new Commission is still missing commissioners from France, Hungary and Romania.

Under EU law, each of the EU's 28 countries, including Britain, has to propose one commissioner.

"We have to move forward step by step. First of all it was the question of granting an extension, which looks really good," Von der Leyen told reporters during her visit to Helsinki.

Britain asked last week for an extension of the Oct 31 deadline for its exit from the EU until Jan 31, 2020.

Finnish Prime Minister Ante Rinne, also present, said a large majority, "maybe all" EU countries were in favour of granting an extension. The length of it, however, was not yet decided.

"Then the second question that has to be resolved is the length of this extension.... indeed, if after the 1st of November - and there are still steps to take, so that is not a given - there might be an extension and the UK will still be in the EU, then of course I would ask the UK to send a Commissioner," von der Leyen said.

(Reporting By Gabriela Baczynska, writing by Jan Strupczewski)

((jan.strupczewski@thomsonreuters.com; +32 2 287 68 37; Reuters Messaging: jan.strupczewski.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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