Thursday, 19 November 2009
ANYONE BUT BLAIR
Well, it turned out indeed to be anyone but Blair. The new President of the European Council, and it is right to stress that, for he is not President of Europe, is to be the Belgian Prime Minister, Mr Van Rompuy, as many suspected it would be.
Mr Van Rumpoy is an economist, who was chosen to be a quiet man. It appears that it was agreed that the new president must not be seen to overshadow the heads of government of the states of Europe. (This alone would have let Blair out, as he would have made it his business to overshadow Prime Minisers, Presidents, Grand Dukes, Queens and Kings.) It is thought that this election reflects the countries’ desire to limit the amount of power to be given to, or taken by, the Council. His appointment will mean that there will be more continuity in the work of the Council which, prior to this, was chaired on 6 monthly rotating basis, by the heads of government of member states.
The other full time post, that of High Representative for Foreign Affairs, (why High, why not just Representative?) will be taken by an English Baroness, Lady Ashton, who again seems to have been chosen for the lack of likelihood that she will overshadow the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the individual states or indeed anyone else, including the tea lady. She has never held elected office, has no experience of diplomacy and is considered to be light weight at best. Others have described her as a disaster. Ashton was sent out to Brussels to replace Peter Mandleson as trade Commissioner last year. An appointment from the Lords was seen as necessary as Brown did not want to risk a by-election.
It seems that the worries of those who thought that the initiative in foreign affairs would be taken out of the hands of the likes of David Miliband and handed to a “supremo” in Brussels appear to have been quelled. It is unlikely that this novice will take any more than a back seat in any foreign affairs matters.
Looking at the photograph of them together there, I think that they were chosen to frighten the mice.