Because the Independent has relaunched Tony Blair’s candidacy for the post of President of the European Council, Re:Europa discusses the Properties of a President and concludes that a British President (Tony Blair) is out of the question, if Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are serious about regulating financial markets.
There is more discussion on the Independent’s campaign on the European Tribune.
In my view, three aspects need to be discussed before we turn to Tony Blair or any other candidate for the new post.
President of what?
The Treaty of Lisbon, if it enters into force, does not create a “President of the EU”. It does create the job of a President of the European Council, for someone to chair four annual meetings and to facilitate progress in between. International representative duties are not to be conducted at the expense of the High Representative.
Despite the limitations, the post is too important to be left solely to our national leaders.
When electing the person, thought should be given to the contribution by the country of origin and the personal role of the candidate.
The evolving core areas of EU action are crucial.
1) A European Union speaking with one voice in the world. Moves to achieve a coherent and consistent European common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and common security and defence policy (CSDP), away from solo flying by individual member states (including the UN Security Council, international orgnisations and relations with the USA). A proven commitment to a common European defence, in alliance with NATO.
2) The Schengen agreement abolishing border controls between the member states.
3) Adoption or at least the clear commitment to adopt the common currency (euro).
4) Justice and home affairs: Full participation in the area of freedom, security and justice.
5) The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
6) Institutional reform: A driving force during the European Convention, the intergovernmental conference leading to the 2004 Constitutional Treaty and the IGC 2007 leading to the Treaty of Lisbon.
Even if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, the European Union will continue to be a “hobbled giant”. Effective action and democratic legitimacy require further institutional reform.
The candidates have to prove not only their credentials, but their visions to the EU citizens they are willing to serve.
The European Council needs to arrange the election procedures in an open and transparent manner, inviting public discussion and campaigning.
Deals behind closed doors are possible only if the members of the European Council feel that EU citizens are not alienated enough from their project.
I invite readers to analyse the past actions of the United Kingdom and its long serving prime minister Tony Blair.
P.S. Ponder criteria and candidates from an EU perspective. It is unfair to blame Blair for not achieving lasting peace in the Middle East, when the God of three religions has failed.