Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Who is Jan Peter Balkenende?

If the Irish vote Yes in the Lisbon 2009 referendum, the Lisbon Treaty has been approved in all member states and it should enter into force as quickly as possible. (Procrastination by Polish President Lech Kaczynski and active sabotage by Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his defeated Senators would lack legitimacy in the eyes of Europe.)

The European Council would nominate its President and the new High Representative.

Despite talk about former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, even presented as a done deal by Jean Quatremer in Coulisses de Bruxelles, the name of Jan Peter Balkenende has been cropping up with increasing frequency.

Balkenende is Prime Minister of the Netherlands since 2002, and he belongs to the political family of centre-right Christian Democrats, dominant in the EU member states. He has represented his mid-sized country in the European Council about seven years, and he would probably cause less outcry among the public than Blair, who lead his country tightly along the lines of Bush and failed in his promise to bring the UK to the heart of Europe.

Here is a short Wikipedia biography of Balkenende.

If two of the three top jobs go to centre-right or liberal politicians, the centre-left can expect to get the third. In case of a Barroso and Balkenende solution, the European leaders might look for a High Representative among the social democrats (socialists).

This scenario would mean trouble for such potential candidates as Sweden’s Carl Bildt, Italy’s Franco Frattini and Finland’s Olli Rehn.

Could it be the German social democrat Frank Walter Steinmeier, who represents a big (the biggest) member state, as Jean Quatremer suggests?

Ralf Grahn