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Saturday, February 9, 2008

The new president

Candidate list for new EU top job gets longer

9 January 2008

Tony Blair, Jean-Claude Juncker, Jose-Maria Aznar, Aleksander Kwasniewski and now Bertie Ahern: the Irish Taoiseach has recently joined the list of potential candidates for the newly-created post of EU president in 2009.

The Lisbon treaty, signed in December 2007, will create the new post of a permanent president to head the Union for a period of two and a half years (renewable once) and thus replace the current system of rotating six-month presidencies between member states.

In addition, the position of High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, currently held by Javier Solana, will be upgraded and merged with the post of Commissioner for External Relations.

"I like Europe, I like dealing with Europe," said Ahern when questioned by the Irish Times about a possible Brussels position, although he admitted that he had not given a huge amount of thought to it so far.

Ahern also stated that he was second only to Luxembourg's long-serving prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker when it comes to experience on the EU stage and that "maybe a small minority" of his colleagues "would like to see me give some of my time to a role."

Negotiations over the three major political jobs – EU President, High Representative (who will act as the EU's de facto foreign minister) and President of the European Commission – are set to begin in the second half of 2008, when France takes over the EU presidency.

Although the new treaty contains a clear job description for the two new posts, their functions are still "deliberately unclear", said Igor Sencar, the current Slovenian Presidency's EU ambassador, in an interview with the US Chamber of Commerce to the EU.

"Only time and political realities will show what the President's role would be, or rather at which end of the spectrum between a purely ceremonial post and a fully-fledged leader at the EU level he or she will be placed," Sencar pointed out.

"It is probably too early to say what kind of problems might occur regarding the creation of this post", he added.

Juncker, who is among the candidates under consideration as the Union's president, made it clear even before the new treaty was agreed that "the EU does not need a president who solely congratulates the US president on his birthday".

None of the candidates considered to be in the race for one of the three top posts have openly declared their willingness to run, but political haggling behind the scenes has already begun.

Several countries, including heavyweights France and Germany, have repeatedly expressed their appreciation of Jean-Claude Juncker.

However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy can also picture former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the position, as he stated last summer after meeting Blair in Paris.

"He is a remarkable man, the most European of all the British", Sarkozy said. "I do not know what his intentions are but that one could think of him as a possibility would be quite a smart move," he added.

Sarkozy was backed by the new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who said that "Blair would be a great president".

The filling of the three jobs is likely to be the result of political bargaining between member states, taking into account country size, political colours and EU credentials, which de facto makes it impossible that two personalities with the same nationality or party affiliation will both gain senior positions. source

My comment: Well, I hope Tony Blair never becomes a president. Why? Because of his love for USA. And isn't it funny the Nicolas Sarkozy exactly is behind him??? The Bush lover?! I'm so sick of this sh*ts. Seriously. Can't they just stand for what define us as europeans. They get a big No from me. And not because I'm americanophob, but because I feel they should protect our interests on first place. That's what a president should do. My vote goes to the irish and the french candidates.

Check out the commentaries of the blog for more info on the issue.


Denitsa said...

Blair speech sparks EU presidency speculation
14 January 2008

Tony Blair has set out his vision for the future of European democracy as speculation mounts over the identity of the first president of the EU, set to be inaugurated in 2009.

"Europe is not a question of left or right, but a question of the future or the past, of strength or weakness," the former UK prime minister told a conference of France's ruling, centre-right UMP party in Paris on Saturday (12 January).

Addressing delegates in French, Mr Blair said that in a world of globalisation, Europe was about "today versus yesterday – less about politics and more about a state of mind, open as opposed to closed."

Meanwhile, President Sarkozy said: "When we appoint this president of the European Union, I want us to set the bar high and not aim for the lowest common denominator." He described Blair as "brave and intelligent", stating that "we need him in Europe."

The Lisbon Treaty, signed in December 2007, creates the new post of a permanent president to head the Union for a once-renewable term of two and a half years, replacing the current system whereby Council presidencies are rotated between member states every six months.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who invited Blair to address the event after first identifying him as a potential candidate for the post last year, told attendees that the former British premier was "one of Europe's greats".

However, Mr Blair's support for the Iraq war, as well as Britain's reluctance to join the euro under his premiership, may ultimately count against him, while other candidates said to be in the frame include Bertie Ahern, Jean-Claude Juncker, José-Maria Aznar and Aleksander Kwasniewski (see EurActiv 09/01/08).

Moreover, it remains unclear how Mr Blair would balance the EU presidency with his current role as Middle East envoy on behalf of the international community. He also recently accepted a senior advisory role at US investment bank JP Morgan.

Blair told the Paris conference that "we are much stronger and able to deliver what our citizens expect from us as individual nations if we are part of a strong and united Europe". He identified terrorism, security, immigration, energy, the environment, science, biotechnology, organised crime and higher education as key areas in which such cooperation was necessary.

Provided that the new treaty is ratified by all 27 member states, the new president will assume office in January 2009.

Denitsa said...

EU Treaty's impact on defence policy remains unclear
13 February 2008

The Lisbon Treaty will strengthen the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) but the scope of the changes will very much depend on the composition of the new troika to be appointed in 2009, according to MEPs and experts participating in a European Parliament workshop.

The parliamentarians participating in the workshop were split over how to assess the treaty's changes in the field of security and defence, with assessments ranging from "massive boost" to "no big step forward".

"The High Representative and the external service will have to serve as the bracket between the Council and the Commission," said Jo Leinen, a German socialist MEP and chairman of the Parliament's constitutional affairs committee.

Thus the EU may not be split up along the lines of the Commission dealing solely with internal policies and the Council being in charge of external representation, Leinen explained.

MEPs agreed that the Parliament must have a strong say in choosing the personalities in the new troika as they would define its competencies, in particular with regard to the Union's new president.

"We must be on alert that the new President does not encroach executive authorities. His sole function is representation," Leinen said.

Moreover, the Parliament must exert its right to control and scrutinise foreign and security policy, in particular with regard to EU missions, Leinen claimed, adding that if the MEPs failed, the result would be a vacuum in terms of democratic control.

A controversial issue was the newly-created opportunity for 'Permanent Structured Cooperation', which allows the largest member states (in terms of military capabilities and commitments) to move forward on security and defence matters.

Among others, German MEP Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL) strongly criticised this concept, fearing that it may lead to the creation of a "core Europe" built around the "big four" – Germany, France, Italy and the UK.

Other areas of concern were the first-ever EU treaty reference to NATO as well as the solidarity and mutual defence clauses, which oblige member states to provide assistance to each other in case of armed aggression or terrorist attack.


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