Friday, 2 March 2012

European Council and Euro Summit: Van Rompuy promises more of the same

Habemus what? White smoke rose from the Justus Lipsius building. Without a black ball, both a cabal of 27 and a coterie of 17 political leaders in Europe made it clear that they want more of the same.

Late and almost imperceptibly the selection of Herman Van Rompuy to chair the Euro Summit coterie and the European Council for the next two and a half years had been introduced into the meagre advance information from EUCO to the public.

The selection of Van Rompuy to chair both clubs from 1 June 2012 to 30 November 2014 has now been confirmed.

In his acceptance speech Van Rompuy reminded his backers that ”our duty is to preserve the trust of the citizens in the Union”.

It would have been even better, if he had remembered that we are citizens of the European Union (even if we still lack full political rights).

Can we hope for better governance and more openness? Van Rompuy's thank-you address seems to dash any hope of improvement: ”In my second mandate, I intend to remain true to my style and working methods.”

Despite this, Van Rompuys audaciously speaks about winning over the hearts and minds of the Europeans.

How about democratic reform of the European Union and its institutions? For Van Rompuy democracy becomes a value worth effort right beyond the external border of the EU:

Without exaggerating the means at our disposal, we must act united whenever our interests and our values -- in particular democratic values -- are at stake, in the first place in our neighbourhood. This is where our credibility starts.

In addition, president Van Rompuy reported about the discussions at the first EUCO session. True to his style and working methods, he still did not share the paper he had circulated to the heads of state or government on how to revive growth and employment.

Update 7 March 2012: Through Twitter the Council press office yesterday made an Issues Paper (29 February 2012) available to the public.

Ralf Grahn
speaker on EU affairs, especially digital policy and law

P.S. With a sometimes tenuous hold on democracy, between the global issues and the national level, the European Union institutions and the eurozone coteries shape our future. At the same time we see a European online public sphere emerging. Grahnlaw (ranked fourth among politcal blogs in Finland), Grahnblawg (in Swedish) and Eurooppaoikeus (in Finnish) are among the more than 900 euroblogs aggregated by multilingual Is your blog already listed among them? Are you following the debates which matter for your future?