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Thursday, July 3, 2008

More on the EU president

No constitution but the president obviously is way to delicious bit to be dropped so easily. I hope I'm not a bad prophet, but I see this president as a big danger to the Union. Actually I see recently too many dangers to the ideas of the Union, hopefully again the common sense will prevail. If not-I don't know. I'm so used to the benefits of the EU, I can't imagine what would be the life without it.
So, in today's edition:
  • Sarkozy drops Blair as 'Mr. Europe' favourite
  • Blair's candidacy would give EU more credibility (an essay on the positive sides of mr. Blair-if it's too long for you, scroll to my comment to read the key moments)
  • Choosing 'Mr. Europe' (an interesting overview on how the new President shall be elected and what he's supposed to do-yes, he, because there's no single she in the run!!!)

Sarkozy drops Blair as 'Mr. Europe' favourite

7 May 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has changed his mind over who should be the first ever permanent President of the European Council, according to press reports.

Having last year been the first to identify former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the ideal candidate for the job, Sarkozy now favours Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, claims French daily Le Figaro.

Sarkozy may play the important role of kingmaker in discussions over the nomination, since he will be presiding over the December 2008 European Council when decisions on at least two of the new top EU jobs will need to be taken.

The Lisbon Treaty, if ratified by the end of the year for entry into force in 2009 as expected, would establish the posts of permanent president of the EU Council of Ministers (with a once-renewable two-and-a-half year mandate) and a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It combines the jobs currently held by Javier Solana and Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. According to the Financial Times, intitial discussions on the issue may take place as early as the June 19-20 EU Council meeting.

According to Le Figaro, Sarkozy changed his mind over Blair as a result of discontent among socialist leaders, who consider the former British prime minister to be too eurosceptic for the top EU job. The British press adds that socialist leaders will never forgive Blair for his role in the Iraq war.

By supporting Juncker's candidacy, Sarkozy could place himself on a collision course with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, according to The Independent, a British daily. The UK does not want to see the EU Council presidency go to Juncker, seen by London as a federalist, but he is strongly supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the paper claims.

One other option said to be under discussion is that the job could go the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, with Juncker replacing him as head of the EU executive.

Jean-Claude Juncker is currently the longest-serving leader of any EU country. Through his dual roles of prime minister and finance minister, he is believed to know the most difficult EU dossiers better than anyone else. This is due in particular to his role as head of the Eurogroup, which brings together the eurozone finance ministers. But opinion polls have also shown that few Europeans consider him to be the possible leader of Europe.

Meanwhile, another strong contender, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, may retire from the race for the EU's top job, according to Le Figaro. He is apparently not interested in the position of Council President and may instead seek to become the next NATO Secretary General. source

My comment: This article kind of made me want to throw up. I'm against Blair as a president, obviously, he's way too pro-american to get to that position. I don't know how stupid should the EU be in order to choose someone that would act largely against its interests. I like the Juncker candidature, but still I have some bad feelings on this. Combining it with how forcefully the Lisbon treaty was kept in the game, it looks like there is more to that Treaty that I previously thought, though I still don't know what. Of course, I still think it should be ratified and put in action, because without it, we have nothing, but there is a hidden danger I can't figure out yet. I hope the new president is massive Federalist and that the UK gets out of the EU, because it doesn't belong there. I'm sure of this already. The UK should play it solo for the benefit of everyone. Hopefully they will understand it soon enough, instead of ruining the EU for the pleasure of it. Hopefully.

Blair's candidacy would give EU more credibility (for the key moments, scroll to my comment)

Published: Monday 7 April 2008

Tony Blair would give the new position of Council President a "public momentum that very few others would," bringing "credibility to the EU project," argues Luis Simon, a teaching assistant at the Centre for European Politics, Royal Holloway College, University of London. But his candidacy ultimately depends on the "ability and will of the EU 27" to balance the divisions evoked by Iraq and his Eurosceptic image, he explains.

Sometime in the second half of this year, the 27 heads of state and government that make up the EU Council will choose their President for two and a half years, a mandate which can only be renewed once. According to the Treaty, the Council will elect its President through qualified majority voting (QMV); according to conventional wisdom it will do so by resorting to some kind of combination of QMV and consensus (whatever that means). The 'package factor' will definitely play a role, as by the same time this year Barroso will have to announce whether he will attempt a second mandate, and the Council will have to decide whether Solana's reign will continue.

Given the inherently heterogeneous nature of the EU, numerous and different variables will have to be weighed up by numerous and different politicians. There is the supranational versus intergovernmental balance, the right versus left balance, the north versus south balance, the east versus west balance, and the small state versus big state balance. There is the 'Let's go for charisma' versus 'I'd rather have a deal breaker' dilemma. There is the issue of the Franco-German input. There is the 'What have you done when you were in office?' question and the 'How would you and your country prove your European credentials?' requirement. For one thing, there is the problem that we still do not know what is it he will have to do nor, for that matter, what is it that he will not have to do. You know, this is one of those difficult choices.

However, and beyond the EU's alleged failure to be a true Union of the people, by the people and for the people, symbolism runs deep. After all, whoever wins the lucky number (and it might be luck indeed!) will get to be the first elected president of a democratic and peaceful Europe. Here in town, names are starting to break underneath the doors of the many conference rooms that connect the European Parliament with the higher end of Rue de la Loi (the site of the EU Council and EU Commission): Jean-Claude Juncker, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Bertie Ahern, Wolfgang Schüssel, Tony Blair…yes…you heard right… Tony Blair. How dare he?

Philip Stephens argued in the Financial Times that "European leaders need a President, not a nonentity": visibility shall be the defining issue, he asserted. It is the man that will shape the job. After all, as Stephens put it most politically incorrectly, you might want to think twice before embracing a name that has hardly been heard in Washington or Beijing. If you are looking to make the point that the EU matters, if what you want is to underline that the most publicly visible contribution of the long-awaited Treaty is for real, then you want a name that will be chased by traditional media and bloggers alike. This is something Blair can get you: he will give the job the public momentum that very few others would.

Thus far, Blair has the support of Sarkozy and the silence of Merkel. Not a bad start, one would be tempted to say; this support might, however, turn out to be a Kiss of Death, like some sort of big fellows' plot to control the Union.

So Blair is 'No Schengen, no Euro, thank you,' we hear. Well, maybe that should not be an excuse against him as much as an argument in his favour. Wouldn't such deference stimulate the debate about the EU in the United Kingdom? Wouldn't that contribute to the crucial enterprise of marketing the EU in Britain? If, as Euro-experts keep reminding us, the EU and Britain badly need each other for a safe ride through the 21st century, Blair's getting the post might turn out to be quite an important asset for both the EU and Britain.

It is, on the other hand, true that in democracy superfluousness lies in the eye of the beholder. Discussion should, arguably, focus on who will be best for the EU, and not just to the job. It is well known in the EU universe that the tasks of a particular job offer as much latitude as the job holder is willing and able to invent.

What about Iraq? The ability to unite Europeans will certainly be a key quality the future President will be expected to show. Beyond the fact that a majority of EU member states supported(/states not people!!!/) the American initiative to intervene militarily in Iraq, Tony Blair played a characteristically salient part in the whole drama. Blair would have the hardest time getting Europeans to get over his role in Iraq.

In spite of whatever merits a big name might bring, for most Euro-enthusiasts the bottom line will be Blair's controversial image -a controversy that revolves around his 'No Schengen, no Euro' position and his role in Iraq. Nonetheless, it might be worth having a closer look at Blair's CV to see to what extent the man can sell Europeanness: His engaging attitude during the Northern Ireland peace process ranks, arguably, at the very top of Tony Blair's legacy, and fits well within the European ideal. Although still in the making, European values surely include a cult of dialogue and compromise.

Blair's government has fought hard to promote a culture of regionalisation and power sharing in what has historically been one of the most centralised political cultures in the world. His tenure has not only witnessed devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but also a (failed) attempt to promote regionalisation in England.

Blair has justifiably won the appellative of most pro-European British prime minister. In a wider constant of Europeanness, Blair's crucial role in the development of a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), his signature (a British signature) of a document which had the words 'Europe' and 'Constitutional' on it or his activism in launching a Lisbon Agenda which is aimed at striking a balance between growth and social justice in the challenging setting of the global knowledge economy can hardly be understated.

Someone like Blair would bring important assets to the EU's growingly pressing global agenda. He could do the trick with the Americans by most importantly helping reassure Washington of the complementary, not conflicting, nature of the expanding ESDP initiative vis-à-vis NATO. His credentials as both a champion of free trade and an advocate for the reform of Europe's Common Agricultural Policy would add much good to the EU's chemistry with leaders of other rich and poor countries alike in an era where global trade issues are, and will continue to be, high on the EU's agenda.

However, he may ironically end up falling victim of having majored in bridge-building at a time when the Transatlantic Bridge was inevitably falling apart anyway. Although the final judgement of New Labour's record on welfare policies will depend on how far to the right or to the left one sits, Blair's pedagogic task should be widely recognised: life-long learning; education, education, education; help people help themselves; protect the guy, not the job! While the President of the EU Council would indeed sniff very few of these core issues, all too well guarded in the fortress of domestic politics, Europe could use that kind of talk at the highest political level. source

My comment:Ok, I edited that a little, but it's still quite long. I'm sorry for it. Here are the key moments:

Tony Blair in short:

- "No Schengen, no Euro, thank you" (-euroscepticism)
- Support for the american invasion in Iraq (- Europeans were AGAINST this invasion)
- Engaging attitude for the North Ireland peace process (+)
- Promotion of a culture of regionalisation and power sharing in the UK (+)
- most pro-European British prime minister (development of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) ) (+ though if this is pro, I wonder what is anti- nukes?)
- pro Lisbon Treaty activism (+ although it's not exactly unexpected if he plans to be the president)
- bridging NATO and ESDP (+/- depending of the attitude,it's one to bridge and other thing to lick asses)
- pro-WTO (- WTO is always defending the US interests in Europe and never the vice versa)

It's disgustingly pro-Blair, but it gives prespective. Especially for people outside the UK that have no idea of internal issues. I still think the UK should get out of the EU and Blair should go gather Uranium from Iraq, but in any case, after this gorgeous publicity, I see him as a little less black. The biggest problem I have with him is that he's too keen to satisfy whoever sits in the White House. Especially on trade problems. Which I see as a contradiction with the consummer-protection in the EU. There are major financial interests on the table and I really really want a president that will take care of the EU interests, not that of corporations. As much as it's possible. So, bye bye mr. Blair.

Choosing 'Mr. Europe'

6 May 2008

The Treaty of Lisbon, expected to enter into force in 2009, introduces two new European top jobs: a high-profile president who will chair EU summit meetings for a two-and-a-half year term and a revamped foreign policy chief. However, selecting the right people to fill these positions will prove a politically sensitive task in the months ahead.


  • 13 Dec. 2007: EU heads of state and government signed the Treaty of Lisbon.
  • 20 Feb. 2008: European Parliament approved treaty with 525-115 majority.
  • June 2008: Ireland to hold referendum on treaty.
  • 12 Dec. 2008: EU summit in Brussels to discuss new post of EU Council president.
  • 1 Jan. 2009: Treaty of Lisbon comes into force, provided that it has been ratified by all 27 member states.
  • June 2009: European Parliament elections.

Policy Summary Links

The "Treaty of Lisbonexternal ", as it was finally named, was officially signed by EU heads of state and government at a summit in the Portuguese capital on 13 December 2007 (EurActiv 14/12/07).

The treaty aims to streamline EU decision-making by introducing voting reforms in the Council, reducing the size of the Commission and strengthening the role of national parliaments. It also creates two new posts:

  • A new, permanent president of the EU Council of Ministers, who will chair EU summits and replace the current system of rotating six-month rotating presidencies, and;
  • a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, a position currently held by Javier Solana, who will also be EU commissioner for external relations.

The legal foundation

The legal basis for the positions of permanent President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy is briefly defined by the Lisbon Treaty:

  • Article 9B:

5. The European Council shall elect its President, by a qualified majority, for a term of two and a half years, renewable once. In the event of an impediment or serious misconduct, the European Council can end the President's term of office in accordance with the same procedure.

6. The President of the European Council:

(a) shall chair it and drive forward its work;

(b) shall ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission, and on the basis of the work of the General Affairs Council;

(c) shall endeavour to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council, and;

(d) shall present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.

The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The President of the European Council shall not hold a national office.

  • Article 9E:

1. The European Council, acting by a qualified majority, with the agreement of the President of the Commission, shall appoint the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The European Council may end his term of office by the same procedure.

2. The High Representative shall conduct the Union's common foreign and security policy. He shall contribute by his proposals to the development of that policy, which he shall carry out as mandated by the Council. The same shall apply to the common security and defence policy.

3. The High Representative shall preside over the Foreign Affairs Council.

4. The High Representative shall be one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission. He shall ensure the consistency of the Union's external action. He shall be responsible within the Commission for responsibilities incumbent on it in external relations and for coordinating other aspects of the Union's external action.

The criteria for who to choose for these two new top positions were not written down in the Lisbon Treaty. It will therefore be up to Europe's heads of state and government to decide on who they want to choose as their new representatives.

Judging from the way the president of the European Commission has been selected in the past, it can be expected that mysterious bargaining will once again take place among the 27 EU countries. According to political analysts, bargaining would not just be limited to the two new positions but would also involve a new "EU Troika":

  • The EU Council president;
  • the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and;
  • the president of the European Commission.

The bargaining package may also be extended to include the positions of the presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament respectively.

The European elections will be held in June 2009 and the next college of the commissioners takes office six months after the European Parliament elections. But it is also possible that the European Council – the formal meeting place of EU heads of states and government - will elect its president first, especially if the ratification process is completed far enough ahead of the European elections. The precise timing of choosing 'Mr. or Ms. Europe' remains unclear.

The big question: who to choose?

In the absence of formal criteria, much speculation has broken out over who should take up the role of EU president. According to Stanley Crossick, a veteran EU policy analyst and founding chairman of the European Policy Centre (EPC) - a Brussels think tank - the new EU Troika needs to strike a balance between the following criteria (see blog post on Blogactiv for full analysisexternal ):

  • Nationality;
  • geography;
  • size of country, and;
  • political affiliation.

However, according to Crossick, the most desirable criterion is the person's ability to carry out the relevant responsibility. In this perspective, Crossick argues that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the only person who has "the authority and ability" to ensure the importance of the troika and would also contribute to another desirable criterion, which is gender balance.

According to Alain Lamassoure, a French MEP who advises French President Nicolas Sarkozy on European matters, developing a selection procedure is more useful at this stage than putting forward names of individuals.

The below list gives an indication of the potential candidates and is not exhaustive:

Name Political family Perceived strong points Perceived handicaps Coverage by EurActiv

Tony Blair:

  • Former British Prime Minister
  • Middle East peace envoy on behalf of UN, EU, US & Russia
  • Most charismatic among the candidates
  • Most popular throughout Europe
  • Too close to Washington
  • His country is outside the euro zone and Schengen
EurActiv (14/01/08)

Jean-Claude Juncker:

  • Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Luxembourg
  • President of the Eurogroup
Christian Democrat
  • Extremely experienced
  • Knows the EU dossiers better than anyone
  • Not very popular outside his small country
  • Too federalist
EurActiv (07/04/08)

Bertie Ahern:

  • Outgoing Irish Prime Minister
  • Experienced
  • Mild-mannered
  • Charismatic
  • Accused of financial wrongdoing
EurActiv (03/04/08)

Wolfgang Schuessel:

  • Former Austrian Chancellor
Christian Democrat
  • Experienced
  • Has the backing of Germany
  • Not very popular outside Austria
  • Featured in coalition with extreme right Freedom Party

Jose Manuel Barroso:

  • President of the European Commission
  • Former Portuguese Prime Minister
Christian Democrat
  • Has a good record as Commission President
  • He is also a candidate to renew his tenure
  • Not very charismatic


Anders Fogh Rasmussen:

  • Prime Minister of Denmark for a third mandate
  • Experienced
  • Charismatic
  • Unconventional
  • His country is outside the euro zone
  • Has just started his third mandate as PM
EurActiv (15/11/07)

Angela Merkel:

  • Chancellor of Germany
Christian Democrat
  • Extremely popular
  • Considered the most influential leader in Europe
  • Last but not least, a woman
  • Does not seem to have any intention of stepping down as chancellor
EurActiv (07/04/08)

Guy Verhofstadt:

  • Former Prime Minister of Belgium
  • Experienced
  • The most visionary of the candidates
  • Too federalist
EurActiv (14/03/05)

Aleksander Kwasniewski:

  • Former President of Poland
Centre Left
  • Candidate from Eastern Europe
  • Not very popular
  • Has unsuccessful record in applying for international jobs
EurActiv (10/10/05)

What do the citizens think?

According to a poll by Harris Interactive published in early April, most European citizens consider German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be the most influential leader in Europe, while Tony Blair is the preferred candidate for the job of EU president.

But Ms. Merkel is not running at the moment, while the chances of Tony Blair appear to be slim due to the opposition of countries such as Belgium. As for Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg, considered an ideal candidate by several heavyweight politicians, he is not a recognisable figure for many Europeans. As a possible EU president, he is credited with only 1% support in France, 2% in Germany, 1% in Italy and less than 1% in Spain and the UK.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is considered a good candidate to become president of the EU. But he recently said he has no plans to cut short his term as prime minister of Denmark. Rasmussen was recently re-elected for a third term. source


Lt.Listener said...

Hey Deni,

It's pretty simple.... As much as I love Tony Blair..Sarkozy should definately be the President. He dates hot models, and I cannot think of anything more substantial that he could bring to the table than that....:)


Denitsa said...

Ha ha, precisely my point. I hate them both :)
I hate the idea "the person and his abilities are not important, the face is".
This is a bad way to think and even worst to act.
Especially when we all know that the president won't be the puppet they all hope. He (the unfortunate gender they set on) will do as much as he wants to, just as with any other position in Europe and the fact is that they are only trying to deceive us with those nonsenses, so that we won't start thinking seriously on that.
The candidature of Blair is very well calculated deal and people should consider it as such. His smile doesn't matter, what he represents does matter.

And Sarkozy looks like a male goat :) I remember when they elected him how the french people I talked to were in utter misery. They hated him so much. But the bastard has luck, there's no argument on this. First the bulgarian nurses that France set free from Libia and now Ingrid Betanckourt. Also the marriage with a model always helps :) He just know how to attract attention where it's not needed or due. That's a talent, you know :)

I think Angela Merkel would be the best president of the EU. Yes, she's way too protective of the german industry, but they all are protective of something. She at least has some brain instead of balls. Or the federalist guy.
I think the President should have firm trust in the EU and have the same ideal like Mone. Which doesn't include submission to USA but on the contrary-clear picture of the world and of the place of Europe in it. Which I believe isn't to be a continuation of USA's politics. We have to find our way, not copy others. Variety moves the world forward.


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