Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And the President of Europe is...

Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg. That is, assuming I had to place a bet on any one of the candidates currently in consideration (which I actually did today with other grad students in the department). Let me explain why I think this will be the case.

First of all, when we talk about the future President of Europe (assuming the Czech government goes forward and agrees to the EU’s Lisbon treaty), we are actually talking about one of the three executives that will carry out authority in the EU. There will still be the President of the EU Commission (the Commission is made up of heads of state from each EU member, with a single leader being appointed president for a set period of time). The EU president often mentioned in the public debate concerns the President of the European Council (a position that already exists, but currently operates under a six month rotation between leaders of EU member states). There is also an office titled the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, which acts in an executive fashion in a couple of EU areas. Got all that?

What makes this new “President of the EU” important is the desire by many EU member states to place a greater importance in the office in the hope that the individual can streamline and direct integration within the organization, a goal that has received considerable flak from more than a few member states, and concerns that the position may take power away from member states and provide a global platform for a charismatic leader to push the organization in directions that may be at odds with local authorities and interests.

Here in the UK, and the Anglo world as a whole, Tony Blair’s name has been thrown around a great deal, and for obvious reasons: he is surely the largest name in the short list of those being considered for the position, and his credentials on the world stage would bring increased attention to the EU’s work, as well as help cement the new Presidency as an significant office to be valued and respected.

Which is why I doubt Tony will get the gig, even if I would like to see him in it. Even among states that are in favor of increased integration and would like to see the EU take a firmer leadership role in world affairs, there is a reluctance to have this new, imperative position bestowed upon a man who would unquestionably upstage the lot of them in the international realm.

Juncker is a man of far slighter standing and his role as a dedicated bureaucrat will likely be what EU member states look to when filling the position. It is unlikely that they will hand over the keys to Europe to a man who they would be unable to control.


jams o donnell said...

I suppose it is no huge surprise that Tony Blair was not chosen. Far too high profile and independently minded compared to a relative non-entity

Roland Dodds said...

He may still get the spot Jams, I am just speculating at this point in time. I do think the media has latched onto Blair as the candidate of choice because he is such a towering figure when compared to the other folks apparently in the running. The press seems to miss that not all states want a powerful and charismatic individual to be the face of Europe, and would prefer a bureaucrat that won’t pull the spot light off their own national leaders.

bob said...

Off topic, but did you see this Roland: Harry’s Place » Off their Brighton Rockers (Cynthia McKinney in Brighton with strange Christian troofers)

Word verification below: dedly sor. Nice.