Downing Street 10 may still be flogging the dead horse of Tony Blair’s candidacy for the post of president of the European Council, but the rest of Europe speculates mainly about the prospects of prime ministers Herman Van Rompuy of Belgium and Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands, although the liberals point out that both the Commission and the European Parliament already have presidents from the EPP family, and everyone is aware of the imminent lack of gender balance.
The outcome of the presidency (s)election is decisive for the choice of high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. If the socialists and social democrats are given the first choice, UK foreign secretary David Miliband seems to be a shoo-in, if Gordon Brown and Miliband himself quit denial mode.
In The New Statesman, James Macintyre finds it likely that Miliband will not opt for Brussels; in Brussels is back with a vengeance (5 November 2009).
On the other hand, on Politics.co.uk Emmeline Saunders refers to an unnamed Labour source who said that Miliband has accepted the job, although sources close to Miliband strenuously denied it; in Miliband ‘heading to Europe’ (5 November 2009).
If the UK government persists in passing this opportunity, someone else must be found. As long as the consultations by the Swedish presidency of the EU Council remain confidential, we have to look at leaks and plants.
Italy’s Massimo D’Alema has been mentioned as a potential choice. He is a journalist, who has served as both prime minister and foreign minister.
For those who read Italian, there is more information on D’Alema’s homepage.
D’Alema represents the centre-left Partitio Democratico in a country where Silvio Berlusconi’s right is in office.
At least officially, the Italian government supports D’Alema, as reported by La Repubblica: Ue, Berlusconi conferma sostegno “D’Alema è una candidatura forte” (5 November 2009). Prime minister Berlusconi is said to have lobbied other governments, and foreign minister Franco Frattini has reiterated his support for D’Alema.
Giulio Bolaffi analyses the present situation in Europe broadly, including the chances of D’Alema, where he sees potential problems despite the official cross-party support; in Il risiko delle nomine, le speranze di D’Alema e le negoziazioni sul clima: chi guiderà l’Europa i prossimi anni? (Gli Euros, 5 November 2009).
EU member states
For Reuters, Pete Harrison reports that D’Alema’s hopes are fading because of opposition in eastern Europe; in Miliband’s star shines in EU race (5 November 2009).
UPI reports: Diplomat opposes EU post for D’Alema (5 November 2009), referring to a Polish diplomat, who mentions possible problems with other former Warsaw Pact countries as well.
On the other hand, Corriere della Sera mentions the problems evoked by Polish ambassador Tombinski, but also the lack of explicit opposition; in D’Alema ministro degli esteri Ue: “Il suo passato sarebbe un problema” (5 November 2009).
Berlin 9 November 2009
In addition to the daily contacts between the governments of the member states, practically all the EU leaders will meet face to face in Berlin on 9 November 2009 for the festivities commemorating 20 years from the fall of the Berlin Wall (Mauerfall, Fest der Freiheit).
The festivities offer the heads of government opportunities to discuss who will fill the new top jobs in the European Union under the rules of the Lisbon Treaty.
Hopefully, the Swedish presidency of the EU Council can soon inform the public about its consultations.
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