Secret deal between EU-3 blocks Blair as EU president
21.04.08 @ 09:30
UK prime minister Gordon Brown has agreed to a secret deal with Germany and France which effectively rules out Tony Blair as a new EU president but the British ex-leader is also interested in the new role of Europe's foreign chief, a UK daily is reporting.
"We have agreed with France and Germany not to back a candidate one of the others doesn't want," a British diplomat is quoted saying by the Independent.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy previously backed Mr Blair as a possible candidate to head the EU's 27 member states while Mr Brown praised his potential qualities for the job but did not specifically back him.
At the same time, German chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly opposed to such a scenario, which means that - under a new deal referred to by the British diplomat in the article – her opposition would automatically spoil Mr Blair's chances of being supported by any of Europe's three biggest countries.
Apart from Tony Blair, the other candidate mentioned most often and thought to enjoy backing by Berlin and Paris is Luxembourg's prime minister and veteran of the EU stage, Jean-Claude Juncker.
The position of the EU's president is contained in the bloc's Lisbon Treaty under the official heading of President of the European Council. The European Council refers to the regular meetings of EU leaders.
Talks have begun on what kind of salary, personnel and other perks the president should have.
But the actual job description of the EU president – a job that can be held for up to five years - still has yet to be decided. While his or her appointment would replace the current practice whereby the bloc is headed by a different EU leader every six months, it is unclear whether the role will be merely administrative or something more powerful.
In chairing the 27-nation bloc, the EU president would work together with another post created by the Lisbon Treaty, the EU foreign minister.
The new post will merge together the chair of Javier Solana as the EU's current foreign policy chief and that of Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the current European commissioner for external relations.
According to the Independent, Tony Blair may also be interested in becoming the new EU foreign minister.
The Lisbon Treaty is scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2009.
Nine member states have already ratified the treaty, others are planning to hold a parliamentary vote at some stage this year. Only Ireland will decide by a referendum, due on 12 June.