Friday, 20 November 2009

What does the “EU president” do?

There has been a torrent of comment and masses of disappointment following the nomination of Herman Van Rompuy to become the first president of the European Council, the meetings of the heads of state or government.

First of all, they did not elect the President of Europe, but a president (chairman) for the European Council.

Secondly, they selected a person for the tasks outlined in the Lisbon Treaty, not for some imaginary role of a global superstar of godlike proportions.

Disappointment is the direct result of false expectations, in this case spread by many who should know better.

It has been described as a let-down that the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union circulated a background paper, which describes the tasks of the president in such modest terms.

The accusation is spurious, because the paper repeats the tasks as described in the Lisbon Treaty. (Reading the treaty – or this blog - could have prevented erroneous expectations.)

Here is the text on the tasks of the president. Compare with the Lisbon Treaty:




Under the Treaty of Lisbon, the President of the European Council is a stable and full-time function. At their informal meeting in Brussels on 19 November, ahead of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December, EU Heads of State or Government agreed on the election of Mr Herman VAN ROMPUY as the elect President.

What are his duties?

According to Article 15 (6) of the Treaty on the European Union, the President of the European Council:

• chairs it and drives forward its work;

• ensures 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;

• endeavours to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council;

• presents a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.

He also, at his level and in that capacity, ensures 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.

He may not hold a national office at the same time as being President.


***

Why start by feeding false expectations and then end up spreading gloom, when the Lisbon Treaty has existed since 13 December 2007.

Opinion is free, but why not check the facts first?

This piece of friendly advice is offered freely to professional journalists as well as amateur commentators.



Ralf Grahn



P.S. Do you find EUSSR myths fascinating? Are we EU citizens worth a better European Union? Read the Euroblogs aggregated on multilingual Bloggingportal.eu, and discuss our common European future.
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