Speculating over the leading EU posts in 2009

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The precise nature of the three high-level posts created by the Treaty of Lisbon and their ability to cooperate closely will be critical for the future of the Union, writes Stanley Crossick on Blogactiv.

In 2009, the EU must decide upon its three high-level posts: President of the European Council (EC), Foreign Policy Chief and President of the Commission. A balance between nationality, geography, size, political affiliation and gender, although politically desirable, will be difficult to achieve, Crossick remarks, adding that the most important criterion is the “ability to carry out the relevant responsibility”. 

Very few figures have been mentioned as candidates for each of the three posts. The list of those in the running for EU Council President – expected to take office upon the new treaty’s entry into force in early 2009 and appointed for a term of two-and-a-half years is so far restricted to Tony Blair, Jean-Claude Juncker, Guy Verhofstadt and Bertie Ahern, Crossick says. 

Regarding the position of the foreign policy chief – whose exact title will be ‘High Representative for the EU’s foreign and security policy’ – the most likely option is that the mandate of the current incumbent, Javier Solana, will be extended, the blogger writes. If this option is ruled out, the only other names in the frame for the post are Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and French Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Michel Barnier, according to Crossick. 

Regarding the new Commission President – proposed by the Council and appointed by the European Parliament (EP) – all rumours had seemed to suggest that the current president, José Manuel Barroso, would be re-appointed, Crossick states, but he speculates that a possible alliance between Socialists and Liberals in the EP may yet foil this plan. 

According to the blog post, parliamentary manoeuvring regarding the highest Commission post is “inevitable and likely to also involve the appointment of the EP president.” 

As the only socialist among the potential candidates so far, Blair must be included in every potential eventuality, Crossick says. To achieve the most-suitable balance between the above-mentioned criteria a Blair-Verhofstadt-Bildt troika or a Blair-Barroso-Bildt troika would be closest to the ideal situation, his blog points out. 

A name not yet mentioned but preferred by Crossick is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has “the authority and ability” to ensure the importance of the troika, and would also contribute to the desired gender balance. 

Crossick concludes by stating that a wide, public debate on all these issues is “highly desirable” bearing in mind their importance to the Union’s future. 

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