Comment: The Wolfowitz appointment is mostly about giving the no-bid contracts a friendly 'internationally recognizable' seal of credibility. The World Bank dictates that a country needs a certain infrastructure, even if it doesn't and does not have skilled personnel to operate it, then it gives the contracts to Brown and Root, Halliburton etc. So it's about giving re-building contracts to Neo-Con companies after they've bombed the hell out of Iran and Syria, without all the controversy that they encountered after the Iraq war.
BRUSSELS - European Union heavyweight Germany has pledged not to oppose Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank on the eve of an EU summit which will discuss the American's nomination.
EU finance ministers attending the summit will consider who should head the global lending institution for developing countries at the summit, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said in a letter to his European counterparts.
European governments have reacted with private unease to Washington's choice of Wolfowitz, best known as the architect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, for the job. The Netherlands said on Sunday it would have liked a wider field of candidates.
But German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that Wolfowitz could yield positive surprises and that Berlin would not block his selection.
Schroeder said he thought Germany could work constructively with Wolfowitz and that he approved of the tradition that the United States names who should be the World Bank president.
"The U.S. President (George W. Bush) phoned me up to say what he intended and I told him Germany would not stand in his way," Schroeder told Germany's n-tv television. "I have the impression we could be positively surprised."
The EU's executive European Commission said people should avoid being biased against Wolfowitz and instead judge him on his actions once in office as World Bank chief.
DON'T BE PREJUDICED
"I don't think we should be prejudiced about people. I believe you should decide based on their programmes, their aims and their ability to achieve those aims," Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a news conference.
A Commission spokeswoman said Wolfowitz had accepted an invitation to meet the bloc's top aid official Louis Michel and explain his views on development and poverty reduction, the bank's key missions.
But EU officials later clarified that no date had been set and it was not clear whether the meeting would occur before or after the World Bank's board meets to pick a successor to outgoing president James Wolfensohn, whose term ends on May 31.
The bank provides soft loans, policy advice and technical assistance to reduce poverty in low and middle-income countries.
The Europeans collectively hold the most shares in the bank with 30 percent, but the United States is the biggest single shareholder with 17 percent.
Diplomats say EU governments are unlikely to block Wolfowitz at a time when they are seeking to heal rifts over the Iraq war with President George W. Bush.
In a letter obtained by Reuters on Monday, Juncker said that while EU leaders meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, "the issues addressed by finance ministers will include the presidential succession at the World Bank".
Officials of Luxembourg, which holds the EU presidency, said ministers were not expected formally to agree a common line.
The views of European finance ministers are important because their representatives sit on the 24-seat board of the Washington-based bank which represents the 184 member states.
Although his candidacy is controversial, Wolfowitz's approval by the bank's board -- which operates by consensus -- is widely seen as a foregone conclusion.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Monday that the U.S. nominee to head the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, could yield positive surprises and Germany would not block his selection.
Schroeder said he thought Germany could work constructively with Wolfowitz, the U.S. deputy defence secretary, and he approved of the tradition that the United States names a candidate for World Bank president.
"The U.S. president phoned me up to say what he intended and I told him Germany would not stand in his way," Schroeder told Germany's n-tv television in an interview.
"I have the impression we could be positively surprised."
Schroeder was the first leader of a major European nation to take such a positive view of Wolfowitz's controversial nomination.
French President Jacques Chirac "took note" of the choice, his spokesman said last week, while British Prime Minister Tony Blair has remained silent.
Many European governments have reacted with private unease to Washington's choice of Wolfowitz, best known as the architect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, at a time when they are trying to mend relations with the United States.
Germany was a vocal opponent of the Iraq war, and the issue put a strain on ties that the two countries have struggled to repair.
Last week German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul said of Wolfowitz's nomination: "The enthusiasm in 'old' Europe is not exactly overwhelming."
President George W. Bush's controversial choice of Wolfowitz to head the World Bank will be discussed at the European Union summit on Tuesday.
The European Commission said on Monday that Wolfowitz had accepted an invitation to meet EU Development Commissioner Louis Michel and explain his views on development and poverty reduction, the bank's key missions.
Wolfowitz's approval by the bank's board -- which operates by consensus -- is widely seen as a foregone conclusion.
The Netherlands on Sunday hinted at reservations about Washington’s nomination Paul Wolfowitz t head the world bank, saying it would be better to have a wider field of candidates.
"It is always elegant to have more than one candidate," Gerrit Zalm, Dutch finance minister, said on the margins of Sunday's European finance ministers meeting. "We now have to judge if he is a capable man."
Mr Wolfowitz has been invited to Brussels to meet the European Commission and discuss his vision for the World Bank, but a date has not been decided.
The nomination of the US deputy secretary of defence shocked many Europeans who know him only as a leading campaigner for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and an advocate of using US military power unilaterally.
Diplomats say the Europeans are unlikely to oppose Mr Wolfowitz at a time when they are seeking to heal rifts with the administration of President George W. Bush.
"I think there's an informal understanding that the proposal will come from the Americans now and we can agree on that," Karl-Heinz Grasser, the Austrian finance minister, said.
Gordon Brown, the UK finance minister, is seeking a discussion between the US and developing countries over Mr Wolfowitz's nomination, believing it is important to achieve international consensus over the appointment. Mr Brown has no reason to think Mr Wolfowitz's appointment will be vetoed by the World Bank board. But he believes the US must engage in a consultative process with developing countries to ensure the appointment has wide approval.
UK government officials said the initial view in Downing Street, the Department for International Development and the Treasury was that Mr Wolfowitz has much to recommend him, not least that he would carry the authority of the White House and Congress.
But he is seen by some UK officials as an unknown quantity on international development. The UK government appears keen to discuss with him his views on poverty alleviation and his priorities for the future.
Treasury officials noted on Sunday that Mr Brown, as chairman of the International Monetary Fund, had sought to consult many developing countries last year when Rodrigo Rato was proposed as IMF managing director. They suggested it would be helpful to use a similarly inclusive process after Mr Wolfowitz's nomination by Mr Bush last week.
A British minister suggested the UK had far more reason to be concerned by the appointment of the hawkish John Bolton as the new US ambassador to the United Nations than by Mr Wolfowitz's nomination.