May.28 - European Union leaders, stunned by a big Eurosceptic protest vote in European Parliament elections, agree to seek a package deal of appointments to top EU jobs with an economic agenda to win back public confidence. Sarah Toms reports.
European Union leaders gather in Brussels for a dinner and discussion. On the menu will be ways to win back public confidence after last week's polls. Populist and far-right parties -- and many eurosceptics -- made large election gains, prompting the leaders here who suffered defeats to call for an EU rethink. The EU is often criticised for being too powerful, too regulated and too focused on economic austerity policies. Leaders of the 28 member states asked European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to launch consultations on future policies. Van Rompuy said he would also hold talks on who will head the next Commission. Filling the top job will be no easy task. Every country has its own preferences and now under new rules the European election results must be taken into account. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bloc's most powerful leader, acknowledged that her centre-right party's candidate might not end up heading the executive European Commission. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL SAYING: "As a member of the EPP, I supported Jean-Claude Juncker as our candidate for the presidency of the European Commission and I haven't forgotten that. But I still have to respect the treaty" Van Rompuy said the meeting had been a "useful first discussion" and that EU leaders had agreed to put the economy at the heart of agenda. But sorting out their major differences will take more than one dinner.