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Van Rompuy set for second term

European Union leaders have appointed Herman Van Rompuy to a second term as president of the European Council - the gathering of the 27 EU heads of government.

Mr Van Rompuy, a former Belgian prime minister and a mild-mannered but canny negotiator, has brokered several important agreements, a notable achievement in an institution where unanimity is required for major decisions. He was reappointed at a summit meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.

He tweeted that he was "very honoured". The appointment had to be unanimous.

"It's with pleasure that I accept a 2nd mandate," he said in another tweet. "A privilege to serve Europe in such decisive times; also a big responsibility."

Mr Van Rompuy is the first person to hold the post. But it has not evolved the way some had envisioned. He is constrained by national interests, and cannot stride the world stage speaking for the entire EU and allowing it to punch above its weight.

"The position is far away from what was imagined when it was created," said Paul De Grauwe, an economist and EU specialist at the London School of Economics. The job was created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon, which was signed in December 2007. Mr Van Rompuy took office a year after that

But if Mr Van Rompuy is not a global star, he is credited with steadily guiding an institution replete with large egos and conflicting interests as it has struggled to stem its financial crisis.

"Herman, you're a modest man but what is not modest is your enormous work for Europe," tweeted Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt after the appointment.

The EU leaders also named Mr Van Rompuy chairman of the euro summits, a new position meant to reinforce economic co-operation among eurozone countries.

Mr Van Rompuy is limited to two terms of two-and-a-half years as president of the European Council.

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