Thursday, 29 October 2009

European Council top jobs: Procedures, offices and persons

Have we advanced much since I looked at the freshly signed amending treaty in the blog post “EU Treaty of Lisbon: CFSP implementation” (13 January 2008)? Have our leaders improved the procedures? Have they taken the citizens of the European Union on board?

Here is what I asked, and have kept asking since:

“The selection processes for the President of the European Council and the High Representative/Vice-President are going to highly informative as to the ‘state of the Union’ concerning openness, transparency and accountability. Will we citizens know who the candidates are, will they campaign openly, and how are their merits going to be weighed and debated? Or are we supposed to stand by idly, waiting for white smoke to rise from the Conclave?”

Jean-Claude Juncker has done the (s)election process at least two services, by coming out into the open as a candidate and by stressing that the President of the European Council should be someone who serves the European interest.

But the importance of the posts and the exclusion of the EU’s citizens are in stark contrast, especially if some leaders want to morph their chairman into a “President of Europe”.



With regard to the President of the European Council, I refer to yesterday’s summary, titled “EU President” & 18 Brumaire (28 October 2009). I have not seen even one Blair supporter argue on the basis of the job description set out in the Lisbon Treaty.

A brief summary of my basic reasoning concerning the High Representative is found in “New EU High Representative – the most important job” (8 October 2009).



President of the European Council

Is it much or little, when the Stop Blair petition (available in 25 languages) has now grown to 42,933 signatures?

First of all, the number keeps growing steadily, and second, it dwarfs the size of the electoral college of 27.

The Financial Times has come out against Tony Blair’s candidacy in an editorial.

Richard Laming on the Federal Union blog weighs the track records of Tony Blair and Jean-Claude Juncker, and seems to come out in favour of the latter, in “Blair vs Juncker for president of the European Council” (28 October 2009).

Regards-citoyens tells us that UEF France has stated its support for Jean-Claude Juncker to become the President of the European Council, in “L’UEF France soutient la candidature à la présidence du conseil européen de Jean Claude Juncker” (28 Octobre 2009).

In Der Spiegel, Carsten Volkery speculates that Angela Merkel may become “Queen maker“ if Blair’s bid fails: Duell um EU-Präsidentschaft - Zwergenaufstand durchkreuzt Blairs Traum“ (28 October 2009).

Yesterday Angela Merkel was confirmed as Federal Chancellor, and in the evening she dined with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, as a manifestation of the close relationship between the countries and in order to prepare for the European Council 29 to 30 October 2009.

The leaders said nothing about the EU top jobs ahead of the dinner, and I have yet to find any media report on if they found a common understanding.


High Representative – more important

Timothy Garton Ash is one of the few who discuss the two posts in public, of which the High Representative is more important. He does not see Tony Blair as the man to do the patient work to form a common European political will. Ash’s dream team is Martti Ahtisaari as President of the European Council and Joschka Fischer as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Failing that, Ahtisaari as President and David Miliband as High Representative. In, “Two people are needed to get Europe’s voice heard in the world. And it is the other one who is more likely to be British” (The Guardian, 28 October 2009).


Openness is the first test of the Lisbon Treaty, but our leaders haven’t even tied their shoelaces yet.

Ralf Grahn