Saturday, 31 October 2009

Alliance of European National Movements

Nothing is more international than nationalism, the great “-ism” of the 19th and 20th century, but these nationalisms tend to be mutually exclusive, where ethnic groups and national borders do not coincide.

The establishment of the Alliance of European National Movements (AENM) is an effort to lay the foundations for a European level party (Europarty) and later a political group in the European Parliament, in order to resist the European Union, immigration and globalisation.

According to the new and still very short Wikipedia article, the Alliance of European National Movements has been formed in 2009 by a number of nationalist and far-right parties in the European Union. Founding members are Jobbik (Hungary), Front National (France), Fiamma Tricolore (Italy), National Democrats (Correction 2 November 2009; see below: Nationaldemokraterna, Sweden) and National Front (Belgium). Other organisations of the European new right have announced participation, including groups from Austria, the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal.

Here are some news items for further study.

EUbusiness: Far-right European parties forge alliance (25 October 2009) Jobbik signs agreements with other European nationalist groups (26 October 2009)

EUobserver: Jobbik, BNP move to form pan-European far-right alliance (26 October 2009)

EurActiv: Extreme-right seeks European unity, again (29 October 2009)

Czech Happenings: Czech DS [Workers’ Party] wants to enter European nationalists’ association (29 October 2009). – The Czech government has recently proposed abolishing the DS because of neo-nazi links.


Among others, the racist and fascist British National Party (BNP) (Wikipedia) as well as the Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) (Wikipedia) will probably join the European Alliance of Nationalist Movements.

There are some jolly interesting characters out there.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Update & Correction 2 November 2009 following comment: Sverigedemokraterna and Nationaldemokraterna are different parties, with own articles in Swedish Wikipedia.

EU Lisbon Treaty: Trick or treat(y)?

Trick or treat?”, asked president Vaclav Klaus, and 27 member state governments (including his own) obliged by granting the Czech Republic an opt-out from the Charter of fundamental rights of the European Union.

Presidency conclusions

This is how the Presidency conclusions of the European Council 29 to 30 October 2009 (document 15265/09) settle the issue (page 1 to 2):

I. Institutional issues

1. The European Council welcomes the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon by Germany, Ireland and Poland, which means that it has now been approved by the people or the parliaments of all 27 Member States.

2. The European Council recalls that the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon requires ratification by each of the 27 Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. It reaffirms its determination to see the Treaty enter into force by the end of 2009, thus allowing it to develop its effects in the future.

On this basis, and taking into account the position taken by the Czech Republic, the Heads of State or Government have agreed that they shall, at the time of the conclusion of the next Accession Treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, attach the Protocol (in Annex I) to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

In this context, and with regard to legal application of the Treaty of Lisbon and its relation to legal systems of Member States, the European Council confirms that:

a) The Treaty of Lisbon provides that "competences not conferred upon the Union in the Treaties remain with the Member States" (Art. 5(2) TEU);

b) The Charter is "addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law" (Art. 51(1) Charter).


Annex I with the text of the protocol appears on page 14 of the presidency conclusions:



The Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States of the European Union, taking note of the wish expressed by the Czech Republic,

Having regard to the Conclusions of the European Council,

Have agreed on the following Protocol :

Article 1

Protocol No 30 on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to Poland and to the United Kingdom shall apply to the Czech Republic.

Article 2

The Title, Preamble and operative part of Protocol No 30 shall be modified in order to refer to the Czech Republic in the same terms as they refer to Poland and to the United Kingdom.

Article 3

This Protocol shall be annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.


Swedish Council Presidency

Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt thanked his colleagues for clearing the final political hurdle to the Lisbon Treaty:

"I am pleased to announce that the European Council has this evening agreed to accept the exemption that the President of the Czech Republic has requested in order to be able to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon. We succeeded in reaching this agreement thanks to the many EU leaders who showed leadership and a strong willingness to cooperate.”


EU minister Cecilia Malmström noted on her blog:

“The Lisbon Treaty was moved yet another step closer to its entry into force last night, as European leaders agreed to grant the Czech Republic a clarification, which will satisfy the Czech government and the concerns of the country’s President Vaclav Klaus.

While not at all an ”opt-out” from the entire Charter of Fundamental Rights, as it has sometimes been described, EU leaders agreed that the Czech Republic will accede to the protocol previously agreed for Poland and the UK, which clarifies the contents of the Charter and its relation to national legislation.”


Vaclav Klaus

Having got his candy, Czech Happenings report that “Klaus not to raise further conditions before Lisbon signature” (30 October 2009). The article refers to a press release by the president’s spokesman Radim Ochvat.

Despite approval by 27 national governments and as many national parliaments, opponents of representative democracy have continued their campaign against the Lisbon Treaty. Yesterday, Kent Ekeroth from the extreme right Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna, SD) handed a petition with some 20,000 signatures to a representative of Klaus.

The fascistoid Sverigedemokraterna offers no translation of its name, so it has been called Swedish Democrats and Sweden’s National Democrats in various news items, which inform us that they, together with other nasties, Hungary's Jobbik, France's National Front, Italy's Three-Colour Flame and Belgium's National Front have formed the Alliance of European National Movements on Saturday and say they expect parties from Britain, Austria, Spain and Portugal to join them soon.


No to social and employment rights

The leader of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Mirek Topolanek, said that the opt-out did not mean any shift in the position on the Benes decrees.

The ODS leader, whose party sits in the anti-integrationist European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament, together with the UK Conservatives and the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), expresses his satisfaction for a totally different reason. According to ex prime minister Topolanek:

"We will not be committed to fulfil comprehensive social rights of the third generation. This relates to the increased protection of employees in the event of sacking, higher demands for welfare and conditions of collective bargaining."

Unions and social democrats have been less enthusiastic.



Yesterday, a group of about 15 demonstrators ─ UKIP, UK Conservatives and others flying Czech colours ─ in Brussels urged president Klaus not to sign the Lisbon Treaty. On Wednesday, about 200 had demonstrated in Prague.



The Czech Constitutional Court in Brno deals with the Lisbon Treaty Tuesday, 3 November 2009, which is the earliest day for a resolution on the complaints filed by 17 Czech Senators, defeated in the democratic arena.

After the substantially unfounded concession, but face-saving for president Vaclav Klaus, the Lisbon Treaty can finally be ratified by the Czech Republic, if the Constitutional Court rejects the complaints.

If the ratification instrument is deposited with the Italian government during November, the Lisbon Treaty could enter into force from 1 December 2009.

When the following EU Accession Treaty is concluded, the political promise made to the Czech Republic would be formally enshrined, somewhat shamefully distancing the country from the community of values formed around the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The effect – including social and employment principles – is more symbolic than real, but the Czech will find themselves in the company of the United Kingdom and Poland.

According to the prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Swedish presidency of the EU Council will start consultations on the top jobs (president of the European Council and high representative for foreign affairs and security policy) the day after president Klaus signs the ratification instrument. An extra summit will be convened, most likely in November.

In principle, the new Commission should take over tomorrow, 1 November 2009, but the Council still needs to agree with the president-elect, José Manuel Barroso, on the list of members. Some member states have not made their proposals yet. The European Parliament then arranges hearings with the proposed commissioners, before giving its consent to the Commission as a body. After that, the European Council makes the formal appointments. Even if the European Parliament does not reject the proposed Commission, 1 January 2010 seems to be the earliest possible date for entry into office.

Almost a decade has passed since the European leaders acknowledged that the Treaty of Nice was an unsatisfactory quick fix and that the treaty reform process had to continue, in the Nice declaration (23) on the future of the Union...

The Treaty of Lisbon is a step forward, but Europe’s new challenges have emerged and developed much faster than the structure of the European Union.

Ralf Grahn

Friday, 30 October 2009

Honor Mahony on landing an EU top job

On her EUobserver blog Behind the scenes, Honor Mahony dissects four different ways to apply for an EU top job, in this case the president of the European Council, in Imagine that! (29 October 2009).

Since we are heading towards Halloween (Samhain or All Saints) weekend, with or without pumpkins, Mahony’s perspicacity could be construed as a fifth way, if our leaders were to hold such a quaint quality in high esteem.

Why not (s)elect someone outside your cosy club?

Anyway, nice weekend reading for the rest of us.

Ralf Grahn

Lisbon Treaty vs Blair

Should the European Council have a president as outlined in the Lisbon Treaty, or a coup d’état stopping traffic in some of the already most congested cities in the world?

Yesterday’s battles

The Open Europe blog reminds us that some are still fighting yesterday’s battles against EU reform in the shape of the Lisbon Treaty, in “It’s not too late” (29 October 2009).


Discussion roundup

Erkan’s Field Diary offers a roundup of links concerning the candidacy of Jean-Claude Juncker, who represents the Lisbon Treaty conception, and of Tony Blair, who represents the projections of grandeur.


Blair campaign

The new top jobs are not on the agenda of the European Council, but they are the focus of media interest and intensive discussions at the margins of the official meetings.

Yesterday evening UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown rolled out the heavy artillery to blast the trail for his Labour predecessor Tony Blair. If British mainstream media are anything to go by, Brown’s campaign was far from a resounding success.

A tough pitch for Blair”, reports Gavin Hewitt for the BBC (29 October 2009).

Blair’s EU presidency bid runs into trouble as summit starts”, writes Tony Barber on the FT Brussels blog (29 October 2009).

Charlemagne’s notebook observes that “An EU summit turns sour for Mr Blair” (30 October 2009).

The BBC reports that lack of support from European socialist leaders makes Blair’s chances seem slimmer than before, in “Blow to Blair’s hopes of EU job” (30 October 2009).

Brown’s failure to win over the European socialist leaders is reported clearly by John O’Donnell and Tim Castle in “Blair’s chances of EU president role slip” (Reuters, 29 October 2009).

EUbusiness summarises “Support for Britain’s Blair as EU president fading: reports” (30 October 2009).

Simon Taylor reports in the same vein as the others, in “Top EU jobs left undecided” (30 October 2009), clearly indicating that the socialist leaders are more interested in the office of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Andrew Rettman and Valentina Pop concur with the others, but add a few remarks on the other candidates for the top positions, in “EU summit sees fresh discussion on top appointments” (EUobserver, 30 October 2009).

Financial Times Deutschland has a more definitive headline than the others, abandoning all hope for Blair, in „Blair muss Hoffnungen auf Ratsvorsitz aufgeben” (29 October 2009).

The Stop Blair petition has now grown to 43,836 signatures.


British opposition

The Labour government may be behind Blair, and Gordon Brown may believe that most of the country would want to see a British president of the European Council. But Blair meets resistance at home as well as in the rest of Europe, and segments of UK opinion fiercely reject practically anything having to do with the European Union.

A short while ago, the BBC’s question on Have Your Say, “Who should be the first president of the EU”, had attracted 1,181 comments, few of the ones published this far are supportive of Blair.

In The Telegraph, James Kirkup and Bruno Waterfield report that “Only third of voters want Tony Blair to be EU president” (30 October 2009), referring to a Daily Telegraph/YouGov poll.

The Conservative shadow cabinet has been up in arms against appointing Blair, with William Hague calling it a hostile act and David Cameron wishing for a more “chairmanic” role, if there has to be a president of the European Council. Whispered, but less than subtle hints in “Conservatives threaten ‘five year war’ over President Blair”, by James Kirkup (The Telegraph, 28 October 2009).

It comes as no surprise that the Telegraph blogger Nile Gardiner, who works at the US Heritage Foundation, combines his loathing of the European Union, the Lisbon Treaty and Tony Blair in “Five reasons why Tony Blair should not be EU President” (29 October 2009). This is the antithesis of those who see Blair as a failed European.

Almost every article has a comments section, which gives an indication of public sentiment in Britain. I have left out most of the tabloids, but read and reflect.



It looks as if the European Council is going to get a centre-right president from a smaller member state, a consensus building chairman in the image of the Lisbon Treaty.

The socialist leaders have a chance to put forward a name for the high representative, and Britain could corner this influential post, if it supports David Miliband. (I would rank it above one of the economic portfolios in the Commission.)

If the Lisbon Treaty clears the Czech Constitutional Court and President Vaclav Klaus is good to his word, the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council starts formal consultations. An extra summit in about two weeks time could take on the nominations: Commission, president, high representative. The extra European Council could also deal with other implementing issues required by the Lisbon Treaty.

For the citizens, the backroom dealings are a reminder of the structure of the European Union. It is based on the member states and the national leaders are the main protagonists. Only a democratic EU would give the citizens the decisive voice over where the union should head and who should be at the steering wheel.

Ralf Grahn

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

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Lucid passage from Declan Ganley

Despite griping about the Irish 2009 Lisbon referendum and inciting President Vaclav Klaus and UK Conservative leader David Cameron to resistance against the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, and despite the absence of a federal master plan among current European leaders, Declan Ganley has one lucid passage in his op-ed article “Stuck with the Lisbon Treaty and its anti-democratic formula” (Wall Street Journal, 27 October 2009):

“Be honest and lay the federal map on the table. Get the support, legitimacy and mandate of the people openly, because they will support it if it's done properly. Show them it will be fair and just and proper; show them that they are and will be ultimately in charge, and that Europe will be accountable to them. Inspire them if you're capable; I dare you.”


In a changing world, the safety and prosperity of EU citizens will require more Europe than on offer under the Lisbon Treaty, the modest result of a decade of efforts.

Ganley’s strategic miss was to squander millions trying to wreck the inadequate Lisbon Treaty reforms, without even presenting a clear alternative blueprint, and with no better reform on offer at this stage.

Europe needs a real foreign and security policy, a common defence, a federal budget and a justice system, enshrined in a real basic law, based on the consent of the governed.

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Is a new day dawning for Declan Ganley and citizens of the European Union?

Ralf Grahn

”EU President” & 18 Brumaire

What is disturbing about the campaign of Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi, Brian Cowen, David Miliband and their entourages to appoint Tony Blair the first President of the European Council?

They have evoked visions of a “traffic-stopping” pair of US and Chinese leaders, but neither they nor their supporting choruses, which include parts of the British press, have addressed the issues posed by the legal base.

Politics is a question of will, but not solely. The rule of law sets the framework for the voluntary acts.

I can’t remember even one Blair supporter, who has seriously discussed the limits of job description, as set by the Lisbon Treaty.


Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty outlines the tasks of the President of the European Council, and the starting point of Article 15(6) TEU is a facilitator of the work, with international representational duties limited and added almost as an afterthought:

6. The President of the European Council:

(a) shall chair it and drive forward its work;

(b) shall ensure 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;

(c) shall endeavour to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council;

(d) shall present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the European Council.

The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure 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.

The President of the European Council shall not hold a national office.


18 Brumaire

The Lisbon Treaty has outlined the role of a chairman. It is no small challenge to help the EU find the unified voice, with which it should be able to speak on matters of common concern.

Turning the President of the European Council into a “President of Europe”, is to subvert the Lisbon Treaty, without the democratic mandate a larger role clearly calls for.

Our leaders should stop well short of plotting a new 18 Brumaire (Wikipedia), the coup d’état which launched Napoleon on his way to dictatorship.

Their job description is distorted, it lacks democratic legitimacy and the failed European Tony Blair is the wrong person do the consensus building needed and to project the EU’s values among citizens and in the world.


Zaki Laïdi

Before Nicolas Sarkozy sits down for dinner this evening to persuade Angela Merkel, he should read the Telos blog post by Zaki Laïdi “Pourquoi il faut dire non à Blair” (27 October 2009).


We European citizens do not need splendour without substance, but the hard slog to reach European consensus on important issues, despite the weaknesses of the Lisbon Treaty.

I am all for a more effective European Union, but real powers require real democracy.

Ralf Grahn

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Tories on the wrong side of history?

Is the Conservative shadow cabinet, including party leader David Cameron, shadow foreign secretary William Hague, shadow defence secretary Liam Fox and shadow EU secretary Mark Francois behind the curve, on the wrong side of history and swimming against the tide of history?

Editorial writer and columnist Mary Dejevsky poses thought-provoking questions about British foreign policy fundamentals in “Britain, Europe and a history of lamentable mis-timing” (The Independent, 27 October 2009).

You can always use foreign secretary David Miliband’s speech yesterday, 26 October 2009, to compare with the article and the signals sent by the UK shadow cabinet, including on Europe.

Read and reflect.

Ralf Grahn

From Rome to Brussels: Lisbon Treaty ratifications

From the 1957 Treaties of Rome, establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom), the ratifications of the treaties marking the various stages of European integration have been deposited with the Italian government in Rome.

On Friday 23 October 2009, Ireland deposited its ratification instrument, as we reported earlier, based on the Wikipedia web page on Lisbon Treaty ratification and on an article in The Irish Times.

This Tuesday, 27 October, we are happy to announce that the Council of the European Union has updated its web page on Lisbon Treaty ratifications, with Ireland’s notification duly noted.

This means that 26 of 27 EU member states are on record as having formally concluded the ratification procedures.

There is only one gaping hole. The amending Lisbon Treaty has been democratically approved by the Parliament in the Czech Republic, but two obstacles raised late in the process need to be resolved.

Today, the Czech Constitutional Court in Brno hears the new complaints by 17 Czech Senators, defeated in the parliamentary arena, but close to President Vaclav Klaus.

If and when the Court validates the treaty, the President’s unsubstantiated fears of property claims by expelled Sudeten Germans should somehow be settled. Yesterday evening Swedish Europe Minister Cecilia Malmström still spoke about negotiations between the Swedish EU Council Presidency, the Czech Government and Prague Castle on the modalities.

If President Klaus then signs the treaty and the other formalities are complied with, the European Union’s member states can finally set in motion the appointment of the Barroso II Commission, which should have taken over from 1 November 2009, the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as start to lay the groundwork for the European External Action Service (EEAS) and a host of implementing measures required by the reform treaty.

Ralf Grahn

Double standards for Blair and Miliband?

The blog post “David Miliband makes friends in Luxembourg” (26 October 2009) on Charlemagne’s notebook raised the question if EU member states apply double standards to the putative candidacy of Tony Blair to become President of the European Council compared to David Miliband as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy:

“It was striking to me that some of the same diplomats who are most hostile to the idea of a President Tony Blair were quite positive about the idea of a High Rep Miliband.

This is interesting, as it comforts my hunch that many of the British-specific arguments levelled against Mr Blair—ie, that nobody should seek a top Europe job if their country is not in Schengen, or shuns the euro—are an excuse for Blair-rejection. Because the same objections are not made in relation to Mr Miliband, or at least not with the same force.”


Double standards?

Charlemagne’s hunch is worth discussion, if we want to approach the new top jobs (and other political choices) in a principled manner.

True, under the Lisbon Treaty the United Kingdom remains outside the common currency (eurozone), the Schengen area of free travel, major parts of justice and home affairs (area of freedom, security and justice) as well as the community of values manifested by the adoption of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Tony Blair and David Miliband are equally British, right?

Objective differences?

In my humble opinion, there are two more objective standards to consider. One has to do with the different jobs, the other with the personal responsibilities of the putative candidates.

Job description

The President will chair and drive forward the work of the European Council, which is meant to provide the European Union with impetus for its development and to define its political directions and priorities.

The tasks of the European Council encompass all policy areas of the EU.

The High Representative will conduct the EU’s common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and shall ensure the consistency of the union’s external action, including work done by the Commission.

The CFSP is a distinct policy area, where the High Representative/Vice-President and the European External Action Service (EEAS) are intended to improve the input and output mechanisms, although under the Lisbon Treaty the area remains within the sphere of intergovernmental cooperation, basically subject to unanimity (liberum veto).

The internal and external policies of the European Union are meant to be in harmony, but the British opt-outs do not directly concern the area of the CFSP. EU countries realise that the UK has diplomatic and military know-how and assets.

Personal responsibility

Tony Blair served as distinguished Prime Minister of Britain from May 1997 to June 2007, but he is a failed European. No other individual is a squarely responsible for the current relationship between the UK and the rest of the European Union, including the opt-outs, countless “red lines” and prevalent reticence regarding progress. His promises to bring Britain to the heart of Europe came to naught. Blair opted for the Bush administration’s war against Iraq rather than for finding European consensus.

Few sane and sound organisations would elect lukewarm supporters to high office.

After junior ministerial posts, David Miliband became responsible for the Environment from 2006, and he put climate change firmly on the agenda (one of the EU’s absolute priorities). He serves as Foreign Secretary since June 2007, which marks the start of his personal responsibility in EU foreign policy. (The detailed mandate for the intergovernmental conference leading to the Lisbon Treaty was ready, so his part has been to defend the amending treaty and to prepare for its entry into force.)

Miliband’s interviews and actions as well as his speech yesterday at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) take the limits of the Lisbon Treaty as given, but his attitude is constructive and he argues well. His views are more or less in the European mainstream, but they are noticed because of the hostility of the Tories, UKIP and BNP as well as widespread anti-EU sentiment in Britain.


The jobs and the personal responsibilities differ between Tony Blair and David Miliband.

Even if both are Britons, Miliband is more acceptable on “objective” grounds, although it could be rash to conclude that the United Kingdom under a Conservative government would behave more constructively because of an EU High Representative from Britain.

Ralf Grahn

Monday, 26 October 2009

Have America and Europe got it wrong?

On CentreRight, David T Breaker laments the Obama administration’s wish for a strong Europe, in “If America wants a strong EU, America has got it wrong” (26 October 2009). David Miliband’s optimistic vision of a strong Britain in a strong Europe is seen as delusional.

What does it leave us with, if both the USA and Europe have got it wrong?

The UK Conservative Party, the United Kingdom Independence Party and the British National Party offer naysayers alternatives.

The Tories want to scupper the Lisbon Treaty, or else … ?

UKIP and the BNP want Britain out of the European Union.


Ralf Grahn

David Miliband: EU Foreign Policy After Lisbon

Today, David Miliband, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, spoke on EU foreign policy after Lisbon, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS):

“So the choice for Europe is simple. Get our act together and make the EU a leader on the world stage; or become spectators in a G2 world shaped by the US and China. But I think that the choice for the UK is also simply stated: we can lead a strong European foreign policy or – lost in hubris, nostalgia or xenophobia - watch our influence in the world wane.”


UK approach

Ahead of the Treaty of Lisbon, the UK (Labour) government informed Parliament and the public by publishing “The British Approach to the European Union Intergovernmental Conference, July 2007” (Command paper 7174).

With regard to the common foreign and security policy, the UK government stated:

“The Reform Treaty will affirm that CFSP will remain an intergovernmental process, distinct from other policy areas. Unanimity in decision-making will remain the norm (i.e. the UK will hold a veto). CFSP provisions will also remain in the Treaty on European Union. The IGC Mandate contains a declaration confirming that the provisions on CFSP will not affect the responsibilities of the Member States, as they currently exist, for the formation and conduct of their foreign policy, or of their national representations in third countries and international organisations.”

The British government underlined its independence and veto powers with regard to the common security and defence policy, as well:

“The Reform Treaty will meet UK objectives on the development of a flexible, militarily robust and NATO-friendly ESDP. The Reform Treaty will also preserve the principle of unanimity (and therefore the UK veto) for ESDP policy decisions and for initiating missions, and will maintain the prerogatives of Member States for defence and security issues (in the same way as it does for foreign policy).”

The government’s presentation of the President of the European Council did not exactly spell out that the choice of Tony Blair would become the make or break issue for the European Union’s future in the world:

“The President will chair the European Council, drive forward its work, ensure its preparation and continuity on the basis of the work of the General Affairs Council, and facilitate cohesion and consensus. The President will also have a role in the most highlevel aspects of the EU’s external relations.”



The government of the United Kingdom seems to have been quite happy for the EU’s foreign, security and defence policy to remain intergovernmental, primarily based on unanimous decisions, retained veto powers for every member state and minimal scrutiny by the directly elected European Parliament.

Miliband appears to reason that you first build a house of cards, but suddenly you need a traffic-stopping personality to counter the structural flaws.

Admittedly, Miliband’s approach is more constructive than that of the Conservative Party, which officially continues to reject the Treaty of Lisbon, democratically approved in 27 member states.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. (Update) Link to the IISS.

David Miliband ─ Wrong horse, wrong grounds

In the blog post On the “President of Europe” (25 October 2009), Nosemonkey is mostly right about the President of the European Council. The post is (or should be) far from being “President of Europe” – either in terms of profile or power.

According to Nosemonkey, it does not matter who gets the gig. It is a meaningless position.


Lisbon Treaty

This is how the Lisbon Treaty outlines the new post: It lacks executive powers, and the chairman does not even have a vote, when the national leaders meet in the European Council. The President chairs the four annual meetings (and possibly a few extras), and is meant to give the European Council’s work momentum and to build consensus. International representative duties should not interfere with the work of the High Representative.

I would not go as far as to call the position or the choice of person meaningless. Chairmen can and do influence the bodies they lead, through agenda setting, persuasion, representation, reporting in public etc.

The European Council is the most powerful institution of the European Union (in tandem with the Council), so there are less important chairmanships around.


David Miliband

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, UK Foreign Minister David Miliband presented his understanding of the candidate and the task:

“We need someone who, when he or she lands in Beijing or Washington or Moscow, the traffic does need to stop, the talks do need to begin at a very, very high level."

A Blair presidency would be very good for Britain as well as very good for Europe, according to Miliband.

On the one hand, David Miliband toes the party line, promoting Labour’s candidate and former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and he eloquently morphs the post of the President of the European Council into something entirely new, the image of a world leader with the highest amount of clout. He manages to point out the Tory leadership’s astounding lack of concern for British interests.

On the other hand, Miliband’s statements have given new impetus to critical press articles, and the comments sections have overflowed with negative observations about Blair and Miliband.

The Stop Blair petition has now grown to 40,950 signatures, and the signs of popular support for Blair are scarce, both in Britain and the rest of Europe.


Three mistakes

The backers of Tony Blair’s undeclared campaign have tacitly or expressly (Nicolas Sarkozy, David Miliband, parts of the British press) wanted to turn the new job into something much more than foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty, something resembling a “President of Europe”.

While it is in order for the European Council to elect its chairman ─ practically every collegiate body has one ─ these leaders have failed to recognise that the cosy understanding among the 27 attendants is not enough for a high-powered representative for Europe. Such a person needs more democratic legitimacy than that.

The leaders backing Blair have made three mistakes:

1) If they want something more than the Lisbon Treaty, they have to change the substance of the post, not subvert the amending treaty.

2) If they want a more commanding international presence as their President, the election procedures need to be changed to give the holder democratic legitimacy.

3) If they support Tony Blair, they alienate ever growing segments of the EU population from their union.

Sadly, the promising David Miliband has joined the club of mistaken leaders, by backing the wrong horse on the wrong grounds, against the will of EU citizens.

Ralf Grahn

Sunday, 25 October 2009

New German government and Europe: Steady as she goes

The new German coalition agreement, or government programme “Wachstum. Bildung. Zusammenhalt. Koalitionsvertrag zwischen CDU, CSU und FDP. 17. Legislaturperiode“ is a detailed document of 128 pages (pdf).

Policies are entwined between the national (state and federal) and European levels, so a detailed study requires study of the whole programme.

Here I am going to restrict my observations to the specific section dealing with Europe „Deutschland in Europa“,from page 106 to 110.

The general approach towards the European Union is positive (here as shortened bullet points):

• An effective and self-confident EU
• Speaking with one voice for peace, freedom and wellbeing
• More democratic and effective through the Lisbon Treaty
• Initiating EU projects: energy, bank supervision, security and defence policy
• Taking small and mid-sized member states into account
• Franco-German relationship unique (promoting education, climate protection, space, security and defence)
• Friendship and cooperation with Poland underlined
• Democratic, transparent EU close to the citizen; cutting red tape
• Speedy transposition of EU directives, without gold-plating
• Strict observance of the subsidiarity and proportionality principles
• Social Europe through national measures
• Equality for German as a working language of the EU institutions
• Parliamentary scrutiny by the Bundestag and Bundesrat important
• Undistorted competition in the internal market; rejection of protectionism
• Independence of the European Central Bank (ECB)
• The Stability and Growth Pact is important
• Sustainable EU budget policy; concentrating on strategic areas with European added value
• Contributions less than 1% of each country’s GNI (with corrective measures for fair burden sharing)
• No EU tax or (new) EU proportion of national taxes; no to such competences
• Regional funds allocated more decisively for the Lisbon Strategy (for growth and jobs)
• Future EU budget funding towards Trans-European Networks, cross-border education, justice and police cooperation, research and innovation, as well as the common foreign and security policy
• Better control of EU spending
• Strict application of the Copenhagen criteria for EU enlargement, taking into account the EU’s absorption capacity
• Important to tie Turkey closer to the EU, but Turkish accession not automatic
• EU neighbourhood policy important
• More unified EU in foreign policy important, the High Representative an important step
• For and independent European External Action Service (EEAS), where all the member states are represented
• European army under full parliamentary control a long term goal



Germany will continue to deal constructively in the European Union and with the other member states, but the relationship between Germany and France is still seen as important for developing a few newish areas of cooperation.

There is German continuity with regard to most of the policies, but if there are major reform efforts, they are selective, concerning only individual policy areas.

There are no great visions of a democratic European Union or much else beyond the Lisbon Treaty.

Steady as she goes, could be the motto of the new CDU/CSU and FDP coalition when it starts trudging along in EU affairs, led by Angela Merkel and Guido Westerwelle.

There is little to be excited about, but the low-key, constructive attitude is in marked contrast to the destructive signals from the UK Conservative Party’s leadership and supporters…

Ralf Grahn

Oettinger German EU Commissioner – Is the Spree freezing over?

From the heady days of the famed Franco-German twin engine of European integration and from Joschka Fischer’s Humboldt speech, we had arrived at a Germany, which is the European mainstream, but with little fire, vision or engaging dreams, with little more than a determination to do the daily chores in a responsible manner.

This was my assessment last spring, in the blog post “And Quiet Flows the Spree – Merkel’s Germany in the EU” (29 May 2009).

Now we have to ask: Is the quietly flowing Spree river starting to freeze, with the arrival of Angela Merkel’s second coalition government?


German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger

CDU leader Angela Merkel has caught observers inside and outside Germany by surprise, by nominating the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg to become the next German member of the EU Commission.

First, some background on Günther Oettinger: The English Wikipedia article on him and the article on Baden-Württemberg, the third largest of the 16 states (Länder), both in area and population (10.7 million). More about Baden-Württemberg on the state portal (Landesportal).


German press reactions

The first German press reactions I saw, were fairly measured, if we leave predictable denouncements by political opponents aside.

Der Tagesspiegel seems to imply a sideways “promotion“: „… nun wird der baden-württembergische Regierungschef wegbefördert nach Brüssel“ in “Zwingendes Angebot für Oettinger” (25 October 2009).

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes Merkel’s words that Oettinger will strengthen German representation in Brussels, as well as the general astonishment concerning the appointment, in „Oettinger soll deutscher EU-Komissar werden“ (24 October 2009).

According to a comment in Die Welt, Oettinger’s disappearance will make life easier for the Christian Democrats in Baden-Württemberg, but he will also strengthen German interests in Brussels: „…Günther Oettinger als EU-Kommissar. Eine taktisch kluge Wahl. Sie entlastet die CDU in Baden-Württemberg, kann Deutschland aber in Brüssel stärken, da Oettinger sehr viel von Wirtschaft, aber weit weniger von Menschen versteht.“


Eurobloggers shocked

If German mainstream media were restrained in their comments, known Eurobloggers have been appalled by what they see as a devaluation of Germany’s EU engagement.

Hajo Friedrich (Europa-Transparent) on doubts that it is a good choice to send a failed politician to such an important post in Brussels, in “Öttinger – step back” (24 October 2009).

Julien Frisch concludes that Germany is sending a failure to Brussels, in “Günther Oettinger will be the German EU Commissioner: A catastrophe!” (24 October 2009).

Kosmopolit on the Kosmopolito blog sees Oettinger as a local politician, without EU experience or language skills. The choice is a less than auspicious indication of the EU attitude of the new German government, in “New German EU Commissioner: Günther Oettinger” (24 October 2009).

Jean Quatremer, on the Coulisses de Bruxelles blog, notes that Oettinger is unknown on the international and European scene, in “Günther Oettinger, futur comissaire allemande” (25 October 2009).


Own musings

There are few indications that Oettinger has experience or interest in European affairs, or that he speaks foreign languages, but is it correct to describe him as a local or regional politician?

Out of 27 EU member states, 16 have a smaller population than Baden-Württemberg, although they have foreign policies, armies and other trappings of sovereign states, including comprehensive EU relations.

On the other hand, even if we chose to believe in Oettinger’s “general competence” (economic governance), there is nothing to show his “European commitment” or that his “independence is beyond doubt”, the other criteria for EU Commissioners (Article 17(3) TEU, as amended by the Lisbon Treaty).

The same question marks have become stronger with regard to Germany’s European commitment and the country’s support for an independent EU Commission.

On grounds of principle, Oettinger’s hearing by the European Parliament could become interesting, but the outcome can hardly be in doubt because of the strong link between the CDU and the EPP, the largest parliamentary group, with a heavy German contingent of 42 MEPs.

Even if the Spree river has not frozen over yet, we may begin to see thin ice forming along the edges.

Ralf Grahn

Saturday, 24 October 2009

EU Treaty of Lisbon: 26 ratifications final?

The Wikipedia article “Ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon” has been updated with final ratification by Ireland yesterday, 23 October 2009. There remain gaping holes only with regard to the Czech Republic: “Presidential Assent” and “Deposited”.

Today’s Irish Times reports that “Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche travelled to Rome yesterday to deposit the instruments of ratification with the Italian government – a formality that all governments must complete before Lisbon can enter into force”.

This is an indication that the ratification instrument has been deposited.

However, the Council does not seem to live in real time. Its web page with ratification details for the Treaty of Lisbon still has a gaping hole where the notification date of Ireland should be.


Among others, AFP reports that the Czech President Vaclav Klaus has accepted the solution presented by the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council with regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

This means that three member states have seceded from the community of values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, namely Britain and Poland as well as the Czech Republic, each in order to nurture its own phobias.

The Czech Constitutional Court in Brno hears the complaints regarding the Lisbon Treaty on 27 October 2009.

Ralf Grahn

Kosmopolit on EU High Representative

At least until now, the member states of the European Union have declined to move into the open with regard to the two new top jobs under the Lisbon Treaty: the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

This is something they should change at the upcoming meeting of the European Council 29 to 30 October 2009. Open nominations and public debate about known candidates are a must in an EU, where every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the union, and where decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen. These principles are actually a more important challenge for the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council and the member states’ leaders, than who they end up voting into the offices.

A talent pool of 500 million EU citizens should suffice to find two individuals with enough vision and experience or potential, even if most of the possible candidates have served at national level.

Kosmopolit has done what EU citizens can do at this stage, when the member states and Europarties have failed to act openly, by discussing candidates for the more important job, that of the new Hig Representative/Vice-President, in “The new High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy” (Kosmopolito blog, 23 October 2009).

It is better if you read Kosmopolit’s thoughts about the best and the realistic candidates, without me second-guessing him.

One question of principle, though: I would not give as much weight to experience, because the right younger person with broadly suitable experience grows on the job. Wisdom and experience may be more important traits for the President of the European Council, whereas dynamism and work capacity could be crucial for the High Representative.

Ralf Grahn

European Council 29 to 30 October 2009 agenda

Yesterday the EU Committee of the Finnish government discussed next week’s European Council, based on a memorandum (in Finnish)”Eurooppa-neuvosto 29.-30.10.2009” (pdf).

The paper discusses the effects of the delayed Czech ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon and the possible means to solve the problem caused by President Vaclav Klaus (but later during Friday there was information from Prague Castle and the Swedish Presidency that a satisfactory solution has been bound, making speculation redundant).

The memo is content to state that the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy cannot be elected at the October meeting of the European Council. The paper does not discuss the possible candidates for the posts or the preferences of the Finnish government. It does not even hint that it is engaged in active discussion or lobbying.

The paper has a few words to say about the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. After the Slovenian Presidency in the first half of 2008, preparatory work has been taken up during the Swedish Council Presidency, which will present two reports: One on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and another one on the rest of the implementation issues. Draft Rules of Procedure of the European Council have been promised.

In addition to the institutional questions, the memorandum outlines the policy areas up for discussion: climate change; the economic, financial and employment situation; the EU’s Baltic strategy; illegal immigration; external relations.


Even if the Swedish Presidency is slightly more open than its predecessors, official information about the upcoming European Council is still scarce, so we have to pick up even the crumbs, such as those offered by the Finnish memo.

Ralf Grahn

Friday, 23 October 2009

GAERC 26 to 27 October 2009 agenda

The Finnish government has published a press release with an outline of the agenda for the EU’s General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC), which will meet on 26 and 27 October in Luxembourg. The text is available in Finnish, Swedish and English:

Government Communications Unit
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
23.10.2009 14.28

EU Council focusing on the October European Council and the situation in Afghanistan
The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) will meet on 26 and 27 October in Luxembourg. The main themes of the Council are preparations for the European Council and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors will represent Finland at the meeting.

The Council is to prepare the European Council meeting to be organised on 29 and 30 October in Brussels. The European Council is to focus on preparations for the Copenhagen Climate Summit, implementation of the Lisbon Treaty and the economic and financial situation. In addition to the European Council preparations, the General Affairs and External Relations Council will discuss the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region promoting cooperation in the area.

The Council's agenda will include the presidential elections held in Afghanistan and the strengthening of EU action in Afghanistan, Pakistan and at regional level. The Council is to adopt an action plan aiming to improve coordination between the European Commission and the Member States in certain fields of cooperation. A key aim is to increase local ownership in EU action in Afghanistan. Finland stresses the importance of strengthening the EU’s police mission EUPOL in Afghanistan and compiling a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy in Pakistan. Finland aims at a rapid implementation of the EU action plan and an effective follow-up.

The Middle East peace process will also be on the agenda. The Ministers will discuss the EU’s support to American efforts to persuade Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations. The Council will consider ways of strengthening the Palestinians’ fading faith in the peace process. With this regard, Finland stresses the importance of EU coherency in relation to the Israeli settlement policy. To advance the peace process, Finland considers it important that the parties investigate into the human rights violations committed in Gaza in the context of military operations reported by the Goldstone Commission of the UN Human Rights Council.

Topics to be discussed over dinner on Monday include the situation in Iran and the dispute over the country’s nuclear programme. Negotiations have been held during the week and, on Sunday, the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit the uranium enrichment plant being build near the city of Qom. Finland supports pursuing the 'double-track policy' which includes imposing sanctions on Iran while seeking settlement to the situation. Finland supports the tightening of UN sanctions if the negotiations do not deliver results.

The Ministers are also expected to discuss the EU- and US-led negotiations held with the political leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim of the negotiations is to break Bosnia and Herzegovina’s political stalemate. Finland supports efforts towards a solution which would enable the close of the Office of the High Representative and the country’s rapprochement with the EU.

The Council will discuss and adopt conclusions on the humanitarian situation, human rights and the political process in Sri Lanka. Finland pays particular attention to the situation of the most vulnerable population groups, especially children in refugee camps. The Council will adopt conclusions also on Guinea, the Sahel in Africa, the Great Lakes area in Africa, Uzbekistan and Yemen and the human rights dialogue with Indonesia.

Further information: Sanna Ek, Adviser, EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2150 and Jonna Laurmaa, Counsellor, EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2191, Government Secretariat for EU Affairs, and Markku Lampinen, Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 9 1605 5530 or +358 40 726 6124


As we see, nothing is said about the President of the European Council or the High Representative, although it would be surprising if the Foreign Ministers and Europe Ministers missed the opportunity to chat about the nominations ahead of the summit.

Ralf Grahn

English patriotism and the EU

I understand why the European mainstream in favour of integration has been less than enthusiastic about the campaign to make Tony Blair – a failed European – the first President of the European Council. More astonishing is the fact that William Hague, the Conservative shadow foreign secretary, has stupefied the ambassadors of the EU member states by proclaiming the possible election of Blair to be a hostile act against the Conservatives (Britain). Hague has had plenty of followers, trying their best to outdo him.

Newspapers have now speculated about the chances for the current UK foreign secretary David Miliband to become the new EU High Representative.

Miliband has since twittered that he is not available for the post, but some of the reactions from the right are astounding: Nile Gardiner on The Telegraph, Gawain Towler on the England Expects blog (UKIP) and the ECR MEP Daniel Hannan.

Exactly as with Blair, they put in a generous helping of venom and innuendo.

The political climate in England is amazing.

Ralf Grahn

The case for Europe

Through the Journal du Marché Intérieur blog I noticed the article by Alexandre Defossez and Nicolas Petit, « Lisbonne, et après ? » (La Libre Belgique, 23 October 2009), where the authors reflect on why the case for European integration is put so weakly, and why the referendum discussions end up being so parochial.


Beyond the questions of communications, good or bad, Sauvons l’Europe discusses the ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court with regard to the requirements for a European federation, in « La Cour constitutionelle allemande soutient Sauvons l’Europe » (23 October 2009).


On the Federal Union blog, Richard Laming discusses why Europe is a fascinating object of study for anyone interested in contemporary politics, in “The future of the EU after the Lisbon Treaty”.


If the citizens think that the European Union needs improvement, they must begin to pay attention to its faults.

Ralf Grahn

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Mary Robinson Facebook group growing

The Facebook group Mary Robinson for President of the European Council has grown to 6,255 members.

The Stop Blair petition has gathered 39,917 signatures, and it has been lent extraordinary support by the UK Conservative shadow foreign secretary William Hague, who has described an election of Blair as a hostile act towards Britain. Hague has explained his parties active trajectory towards the fringes of the European Union, or beyond, as active and activist.

I am sure that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are as impressed as the ambassadors of the EU member states.

Ralf Grahn

Principles regarding President of the European Council

Our previous post “Charlemagne and President of the European Council” mentioned the question on Charlemagne’s notebook, “Is any Briton suitable for Europe’s top job?”(21 October 2009).

We looked at some early observations on the need for open election procedures and “objective” criteria concerning countries and candidates.


Written declaration

I found the issue intriguing enough to locate the written declaration by the five MEPs. Here is the text of the written declaration, in French:

« A l'initiative de Robert Goebbels, cinq députés européens viennent de déposer au Parlement européen une déclaration écrite sur la nomination du futur président du Conseil européen.

Le Traité de Lisbonne confère aux seuls Chefs d'Etat et de Gouvernement, réunis au Conseil européen, le droit de désigner le futur président permanent du Conseil européen. Or, selon les cinq députés (outre Robert Goebbels on note Klaus-Heiner Lehne, président de la Commission Juridique; Herbert Reul, président de la Commission de l'Industrie; Jo Leinen, président de la Commission de l'Environnement et Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, coordinateur au Groupe libéral), le Parlement européen ne peut pas simplement enregistrer ce futur président du Conseil, qui sera le visage et la voix de l'Europe.

Pour cette raison les députés dressent un profil du futur président, qui devrait venir d'un pays qui a adopté ou a la volonté d'adopter l'Euro, un pays faisant partie de l'espace Schengen et ne refusant pas l'application de la Charte européenne des droits fondamentaux. Faut-il souligner que ce profil ne correspond absolument pas au candidat préféré de quelques grands pays, à savoir l'ancien Premier ministre du Royaume-Uni Tony Blair?

Si la moitié des députés européens devaient signer cette déclaration écrite, elle aurait valeur de résolution adoptée par le Parlement européen et serait publiée au journal officiel de l'Union européenne.


déposée conformément à l'article 123 du règlement

par Jorgo CHATZIMARKAKIS, Robert GOEBBELS, Jo LEINEN, Klaus-Heiner LEHNE, Herbert REUL

sur la nomination du futur président ou de la future présidente du Conseil européen

Déclaration écrite sur la nomination du futur président ou de la future présidente du Conseil européen

Le Parlement européen,

– vu l'article 123 de son règlement,

A. considérant que le Traité de Lisbonne confère au seul Conseil européen le droit de nommer un président permanent du Conseil,

B. considérant que le futur président ou la future présidente du Conseil européen deviendra la voix de toute l’Union européenne,

C. considérant que le Parlement européen directement élu par les peuples d’Europe ne peut pas simplement enregistrer le choix des Chefs d’Etat et de Gouvernement,

1. exige du Conseil européen de nommer comme président permanent une personnalité avec laquelle les peuples d’Europe puissent s'identifier,

2. estime qu’une telle personnalité doit avoir fait preuve de sa capacité de faire avancer l’Union européenne vers une "union sans cesse plus étroite entre les peuples de l'Europe",

3. est convaincu que cette personnalité

- ne peut venir que d’un Etat membre qui a adopté ou reste déterminé à adopter la monnaie commune européenne,

- doit être issue d’un Etat membre faisant partie ou voulant faire partie de l’espace Schengen garantissant la libre circulation des citoyens,

- doit provenir d’un Etat membre ne refusant pas l’application de la Charte des droits fondamentaux de l'Union européenne sur son territoire,

4. charge son Président de transmettre la présente déclaration, accompagnée du nom des signataires, à la Commission, au Conseil et aux parlements des États membres. »



This blog has discussed the election of the new President of the European Council (and the High Representative/Vice-President) in numerous posts. The election procedures should be open and they should engage the EU citizens. The merits of the country and of the individual candidates have to be taken into account.

Here are some of the blog posts dealing with the election of the President of the European Council:

President of the European Council (10 February 2008)

Heavyweight president for the European Council? (19 March 2008)

Lisbon Treaty& European Council: “Presidential elections” (23 March 2009)

Lisbon Treaty & European Council: President’s job (24 March 2009)

Gordon Brown’s European mainstream (29 March 2009)

Tony Blair new “EU President”? (8 April 2009)

NATO & EU: Rewarding freeloading? (11 April 2009)

European Council President: Eliminating unwilling countries (11 April 2009)

Gordon Brown as President of the European Council? (16 June 2009)

Ever closer union (28 June 2009)

“EU President” Tony Blair? (17 July 2009)

Why President Blair? (3 October 2009)

EU capitals: Time to nominate candidates for President & High Representative (5 October 2009)

No EU President (5 October 2009)

USA & EU: Comparing Presidents (6 October 2009)

Tony Blair wrong choice for Europe (7 October 2009)

New EU High Representative – the most important job (8 October 2009)

If Britons do not support Tony Blair? (16 October 2009)

Why support Mary Robinson for President of the European Council? (21 October 2009)

Charlemagne and President of the European Council (22 October 2009)


If I remember correctly, 17 EU member states fulfil all the criteria. In other words, there is a considerable talent pool available, and one can always discuss if every requirement is necessary, because the individual engagement is just as important.

It is at least as important that the European Council opens up the election procedures to the citizens of the European Union. Openness is the first test of the Lisbon Treaty.

Ralf Grahn

Charlemagne and President of the European Council

Is any Briton suitable for Europe’s top job?”, asked Charlemagne’s notebook (21 October 2009). The blog post brought to my attention that two members of the European Parliament, Herbert Reul and Klaus-Heiner Lehne, have launched a petition with criteria concerning the country of origin, when electing the first President of the European Council.

Any organisation needs to take recruitment seriously, especially for top jobs, and the European Union has to take account of both states and individuals.



The Grahnlaw blog post ”President of the European Council” (10 February 2008) and hosts of other articles on this blog have called for a principled discussion about the election of the holder of the new office. They have elaborated on the theme and they have included study of the where the different member states stand in relation to the “objective” criteria. (There are more qualifiers than Luxembourg.)

Here are some of the points in the 10 February 2008 post, which discussed the election procedure and the factual criteria:

“The Lisbon Treaty forms the basis, but the details clearly need preparation and implementation. Preparatory discussions are ongoing, but the political decisions concerning the “job description”, administrative and other resources, as well as the election itself are expected to be made during the second half of this year, during the French Council Presidency.

This brings us to the procedure, which would be more important to discuss than the personalities at this stage.

The all too probable worst case scenario is that an electoral college of 27 heads of state or government deal behind closed doors and that the citizens are only offered the result. Even the conclave of cardinals is larger, though the procedures look pretty equal at the present stage. To leave the citizens of the European Union waiting for a puff or two of white smoke – after customary leaks, rumours and speculation – would be a sad state of affairs, irrespective of the outcome.

The European Council has the powers, if the will is there, to arrange open nominations, public debate and transparent decision making, with support and reasons given openly.

Let us apply pressure, in case our leaders do not automatically seize this opportunity to reconnect the citizens with the European project.

In the short run, let us not forget that most of the above applies to the empowered High Representative/Vice-President, too.

In the long run, the “President of Europe” should be given a clear democratic mandate, be it as the chief of a politically accountable executive or as a more symbolic figure-head.


The third issue is to look at the qualifications needed for the job. Different viewpoints are not only necessary, they are highly desirable. My own main substantial criteria would be weighted towards scrutinising the candidate and his/her country with the following in mind:

* Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and conduct during the reform process.

* The Eurozone

* The Schengen area

* The Charter of Fundamental Rights

* Commitment to the CFSP and CSDP based on dual EU and NATO membership

* Commitment to a future democratic European Union


Finally there come the personal qualities of the candidates, like trustworthiness, vision, leadership, communication and negotiation skills.

They can be evaluated and discussed by the leaders and the citizens during the campaign, when we know who are running and get a chance to see them in action.”


We can always discuss the relevance of different criteria, but even at this late stage the petition by Reul and Lehne is an excellent opening among elected politicians in this respect.

Let us hope that the election procedures receive the discussion they merit.

Ralf Grahn

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Global Europe blog

Are you interested in European foreign and security policy? In case you are, don’t miss the Global Europe blog, written by Ulrich Speck.

A daily Morning Brief brings you summaries of media reports and interesting events, with links to the sources. The style is clear and accessible.

Recommended reading.

Ralf Grahn

Olli Rehn new EU High Representative?

If the leaders of the EU member states encounter difficulties in electing the President of the European Council, Finland can offer two pro-Europeans with solid merits: Paavo Lipponen is a former Prime Minister, with an impressive record of good governance. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, is known for his peace-brokering missions. Both belong to the Social Democratic camp.

Still, the number one preference of the current centre-right coalition government in Finland would be for the present EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn to become the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Their second option would be for Rehn to grab the Economic and Monetary Affairs portfolio.

Even if Finland is just one among 27 member states, the merits of these candidates have been noticed by international media. It is too early to tell, what European Council horse-trading in the wee hours may bring about.


On the domestic scene, the discussion has not been exempt from party political viewpoints.

The International edition of the largest Finnish Daily, Helsingin Sanomat, has published an article written by the paper’s Brussels correspondent Annamari Sipilä, ”Olli Rehn focuses on economic affairs in preparation for EU Commission portfolio shuffle” (21 October 2009 in English, 17 October in the Finnish print version).

Ralf Grahn

Why support Mary Robinson for President of the European Council?

It is about time for something in the European Union to come the citizens’ way.

In an excellent post, Frank Schnittger over at the European Tribune has laid out the main reasons to support Mary Robinson, in “Mary Robinson for President of the European Council” (20 October 2009).

The short message to the EU leaders is: Elect the person we can be proud of.

Among other things, EU citizens can join the growing Facebook group in support of Mary Robinson becoming the President of the European Council. There are now 6,124 supporters, which means that 122 had joined since yesterday morning.

Tony Blair

From yesterday morning, 272 persons had signed the Stop Blair petition, which had grown to 39,624 signatures.

Ralf Grahn

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Gerald Warner and the Song of Songs of unsophistication

The Telegraph has amassed a group of columnists guaranteed to keep British anti-EU feeling high and ignorance profound.

No wonder that the sophistication of Europhiles becomes the object of a scathing attack by Gerald Warner in “A ratified Lisbon Treaty 'cannot be abrogated'. So, are the Czechs still in the Warsaw Pact?” (The Telgraph, 20 October 2009).

In short, Warner argues for a UK referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty, after its entry into force, an abrogation of the amending treaty and a unilateral return to the ‘status quo ante’.


Warner is not far from the truth, when he asserts that international treaties can be revoked.

However, he fails to make the distinction between a stand-alone treaty and an amending treaty, which supersedes the previous ones, in an evolving organisation like the European Union.

The European Union is different after the Treaty of Lisbon, including many institutional rules. Having one European Parliament, one Council and one Commission for the rest of the member states, and the old Nice Treaty version for Britain is like taking the first storey away from a multi-storey building. Quite sophisticated!

By all means, arrange a simple Yes/No referendum to “reclaim the country”, but on membership, for that is what it is.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. We are eagerly waiting for David Cameron and William Hague to present their “we won’t let matters rest there” vision on Europe, but our sincere hope is that they have more sophisticated advisors than Warner.

EU Lisbon Treaty timetable

For the member states of the European Union the last ratification instrument to be deposited with the Government of Italy is going to determine when the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, but time is running short ahead of the next European Council.

The unclear situation in the Czech Republic casts a shadow over the preparations, but the time has come to inform and to involve the EU citizens.



Here is a brief look at the timetable for the end of this month.

21 October 2009: The ambassadors meet in the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Member States (COREPER II) to discuss the preparations for the General Affairs and External Relations Council formation (GAERC), notably the draft conclusions for the European Council.

21 October: In the morning the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, hears and debates the statements of the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council and of the Commission on the preparations for the European Council. (During the afternoon the Parliament discusses how the European External Action Service EEAS should be organised.)

26 October: GAERC meets in session on General Affairs, to lay the table for the heads of state or government.

27 October: The Czech Constitutional Court in Brno hears arguments concerning the compatibility of the Treaty of Rome and its successors with the Czech Constitutions, as well as to decide when it is going to give its eagerly awaited ruling on the latest complaints.

29 to 30 October: The European Council convenes.

31 October: The term of office of the Barroso I Commission ends.


To do list

The member states need to find a solution to the Czech and now also Slovak requests for a declaration concerning the inapplicability of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on property claims by ethnic Germans expelled after WW2.

Temporary measures are needed to keep the Commission going, and clarity is needed with regard to the new Commission.

The European Parliament is waiting for the entry into force of the Lisbon rules, which will give it a more equal role as a co-legislator with the Council.

The Commission posts, the new President of the European Council, the new High Representative/Vice-President and the next Secretary-General of the Council are subject to much speculation, but public information has been scant. If the leaders want to diminish the gap between the EU and its citizens, they should opt for public nominations and open debates before the decisions are taken.

Preparatory work is needed for the European External Action Service, but little information has been forthcoming (except for the leaked position paper by the Benelux countries).

The amended Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament would enter into force with the Lisbon Treaty, but preparations for the Rules of Procedure of the European Council and amendments to those of the Council and the Commission, as well as other implementing decisions have not been communicated to the public.


Openness is going to be the first test of the Lisbon Treaty. Let us hope that the Swedish Presidency opens a new Lisbon era in the history of the Council, beginning at tomorrow’s debate in the European Parliament.

Ralf Grahn

Growing support for Mary Robinson

The life and work of Mary Robinson embody the values of the European Union internally and in the wider world. She would lend the new office of President of the European Council a dignity few others can, and she would bring the citizens and the EU closer to each other.


Mary Robinson

The Facebook group in support of Mary Robinson becoming the President of the European Council keeps growing. There are now 6,002 supporters, which means that 412 have joined since Saturday morning.


Tony Blair

During the same three day period, the Stop Blair petition has grown to 39,352 signatures, with 1,662 new ones recorded.

Ralf Grahn

Monday, 19 October 2009

EU Charter and Beneš Decrees

Statewatch has published an analysis by Professor Steve Peers:

The Beneš Decrees and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights” (12 October 2009; 14 pages)

Peers’ analysis addresses four issues:

1) What is the scope of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights?

2) Does the scope of EC law include the Beneš Decrees?

3) Does the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice extend to direct claims against Member States?

4) What legal method could be used to confirm that the Beneš Decrees cannot be challenged pursuant to the Charter of Rights?


Read and reflect.

Is there cause for the contagion, which has now spread from the Czech Republic to Slovakia?

Ralf Grahn

Aland Islands and EU Lisbon Treaty (October 2009 update)

According to the newspapers Ålandstidningen (13 October 2009) and Nya Åland (14 October 2009), the Autonomy Committee (Självstyrelsepolitiska nämnden) of the Åland Parliament (Ålands lagting) has prepared an opinion for the Legal Committee (Lagutskottet), which will issue a report on the application of the EU Treaty of Lisbon in the Åland Islands.

According to the newspaper articles, the Autonomy Committee recommends approval, by six votes to two, but encourages the Åland Government (Ålands landskapsregering) to continue its negotiations with the Finnish Government in order to enhance the region’s powers in EU affairs. .

The opinion was reported to be 17 pages long, but I was unable to find any indication of publication.

Approval by the plenary requires a qualified majority of two thirds in the 30 member regional Parliament, and it would concern application of the Lisbon Treaty in the Åland Islands, with regard to the areas with autonomous legislation.

Finland formally ratified the EU Treaty of Lisbon 30 September 2008.

If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified by the Czech Republic, it enters into force on the first day of the following month.


YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Company) has published a general news item on the Lisbon Treaty in Åland, in Finnish (updated 4 October 2009). The reform treaty is expected to reach the plenary during the first half of November.

Ralf Grahn