Wednesday 8 April 2009

Tony Blair new ”EU President”?

Because the Independent has relaunched Tony Blair’s candidacy for the post of President of the European Council, Re:Europa discusses the Properties of a President and concludes that a British President (Tony Blair) is out of the question, if Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are serious about regulating financial markets.

There is more discussion on the Independent’s campaign on the European Tribune.


Principled approach

In my view, three aspects need to be discussed before we turn to Tony Blair or any other candidate for the new post.

President of what?

The Treaty of Lisbon, if it enters into force, does not create a “President of the EU”. It does create the job of a President of the European Council, for someone to chair four annual meetings and to facilitate progress in between. International representative duties are not to be conducted at the expense of the High Representative.

Despite the limitations, the post is too important to be left solely to our national leaders.

Track record

When electing the person, thought should be given to the contribution by the country of origin and the personal role of the candidate.

The evolving core areas of EU action are crucial.

1) A European Union speaking with one voice in the world. Moves to achieve a coherent and consistent European common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and common security and defence policy (CSDP), away from solo flying by individual member states (including the UN Security Council, international orgnisations and relations with the USA). A proven commitment to a common European defence, in alliance with NATO.

2) The Schengen agreement abolishing border controls between the member states.

3) Adoption or at least the clear commitment to adopt the common currency (euro).

4) Justice and home affairs: Full participation in the area of freedom, security and justice.

5) The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

6) Institutional reform: A driving force during the European Convention, the intergovernmental conference leading to the 2004 Constitutional Treaty and the IGC 2007 leading to the Treaty of Lisbon.

Future reform

Even if the Lisbon Treaty enters into force, the European Union will continue to be a “hobbled giant”. Effective action and democratic legitimacy require further institutional reform.

The candidates have to prove not only their credentials, but their visions to the EU citizens they are willing to serve.

Election procedure

The European Council needs to arrange the election procedures in an open and transparent manner, inviting public discussion and campaigning.

Deals behind closed doors are possible only if the members of the European Council feel that EU citizens are not alienated enough from their project.

Candidate Blair

I invite readers to analyse the past actions of the United Kingdom and its long serving prime minister Tony Blair.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Ponder criteria and candidates from an EU perspective. It is unfair to blame Blair for not achieving lasting peace in the Middle East, when the God of three religions has failed.


  1. Here are the views of Tony Blair, ‘The Man Who Would Be King’, about the EU;
    ‘Above all, the European Economic Community takes away Britain’s freedom to follow the sort of economics we need’.
    Tony Blair, writing his personal manifesto when standing for Parliament in 1982.

    We’ll negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs’.
    Pledging his opposition to the EEC when standing for Parliament in Sedgefield in 1983.

    On the day we remember the legend that St George slayed the dragon to protect England, some would argue that there is another dragon to be slayed: in Europe’.
    In an interview with ‘The Sun’ newspaper on St George’s Day in 1997.

    I am a passionate pro-European. I always have been’.
    Speaking to the European Parliament in 2005.

  2. I don't think that a NATO link is necessary to be a good Council president. To consider it a requirement is to disenfranchise the neutral/non-aligned countries from the possibility of putting forward a candidate with a chance of becoming president. I don't think that the EU's foreign policy role needs a deep NATO link: the EU's foreign policy role hasn't reached that point.

    Why exactly should pro-NATO-ism be a requirement for a post which is mostly about finding compromise between member states?

    Blair isn't suited to the job because of the weakness he showed on Europe while in power, despite proclaiming himself the most European prime minister of the UK in years.

  3. Eurocentric,

    Is it not the other way around, that the member states which have opted out of the common defence policy aims and arrangements have disqualified themselves?

    Is it even possible to think that a country (or representative) deliberately outside the common framework could and should drive forward the common aims within this crucial area of European Council action?

    (I feel more like the messenger spelling out the bad tidings, than as the inventor of artificial hurdles.)

    The common security and defence policy (CSDP) is an integral part of the common foreign and security policy (CFSP). The CSDP aims at a common defence policy and a common defence, but NATO is the current foundation.

    Article 42(7) TEU lays down both the exceptions and the mainstream solution:

    7. If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.

    Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation.


    In my view, the aim for the future is a European defence with a transatlantic link through the NATO alliance.

  4. Rayatcov,

    Most politicians defend changing party lines and personal opinions during long careers, so I am not too concerned about what Tony Blair said in the early 1980ies.

    On the other hand, Blair's speech before the European Parliament was not preceded or followed by commensurate action for Europe.

    Deeds, not words should be the yardstick for electing the President of the European Council.

    This is what my post invites readers to reflect upon.

  5. Mr Anthony Lytton Blair, Ex-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as a possible candidate for the post of 'First Elected President-Emporer of These Here Unelected Bureucratic Marxist States of Euro-land' is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron.

    Ox, as in large lumbering beast, and moron as in descriptor word. Someone who thinks that they are 'Special and Different' from all the other Earthlings.

  6. Anonymous,

    You added a number of contradictory terms yourself, if I may say so.


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