Friday

17th Sep 2021

First names floated for top new EU jobs

Although the ink on the new EU treaty deal is barely dry, several names are already being floated as possible candidates for the European Union's first-ever president – among them Tony Blair, former UK prime minister.

"He [Tony Blair] is a very remarkable man, the most pro-European of all Britons. It would be quite a smart move to consider him", French president Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday (19 October), triggering speculations about who could be given a high-profile job after the new Lisbon Treaty enters into force, set for mid-2009.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Will Tony Blair return to EU stage as the bloc's first-ever president? (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

A similar message came from UK prime minister Gordon Brown, who said Mr Blair would be "a great candidate for any significant international job". However, he added it was "premature" to debate the list of possible candidates before the treaty is ratified.

Although the job comes with no executive powers, the new president of the European Council - a body representing EU governments - is expected to be a top politician. The first president is also expected to set the job description for future presidents.

The post is a two and a half year term, but it can be held twice. The system replaces the current situation where the post rotates among member states every six months.

But despite his high-profile career, giving an EU post to Mr Blair would probably cause some strong controversy.

Critics continue to point to his support of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 - something that caused a deep rift in the EU. Others question his commitment to the European project, given the fact that London does not participate in some key common policies.

A spokesperson for former UK leader told British media that Mr Blair - who is now the quartet's envoy to the Middle East - was "focusing on his current role".

Luxembourg's prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski have also been tipped for the top job.

Foreign affairs representative

Meanwhile, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso - reportedly eyeing a second term from 2009 - has welcomed prospects of a permanent EU president, saying it will bring "more stability and continuity".

"It is better for the commission president to have relation with the president on permanent, well-known basis than to establish relations every six month", Mr Barroso said despite his recently expressed concern that the EU president post will shift power away from EU institutions towards member states.

Similarly, Mr Barroso praised the newly created post of EU foreign affairs representative, combining the two current jobs of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and EU external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

"A great part of our work in the commission is spent on articulation [...] to the council", Mr Barroso said on the position, which is expected to improve the European Union's profile on international scene and - perhaps - finally give the world a single phone number to call in Europe.

Unlike the EU president, the appointment of the foreign affairs chief to set to be controlled by the European Parliament as the politician in question will also be a vice-president of the European Commission.

Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt has been cited as a possible candidate for the post.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

Future of Europe: Nearly half of citizens want reforms

European Parliament president David Sassoli called for the Conference on the Future of Europe "to start as soon as possible". Meanwhile, nearly half of EU citizens would like to see reforms to the bloc.

EU parliament snubs anti-corruption researchers

Transparency International carried out three separate studies on integrity, of the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council (representing member states). The European Parliament refused to cooperate.

Cyprus: a heavy caseload for new EU prosecutors office

The new European Public Prosecutor's office will become operational in March. It is tasked to carry out criminal fraud investigations of the EU budget. But of the 140 required European delegated prosecutors, only nine have so far set up office.

News in Brief

  1. Bulgaria's president appoints interim government
  2. Navalny poised to win EU human rights prize
  3. Poland will not leave EU, says Kaczyński
  4. Eurozone wages fall for first time in a decade
  5. Israel joins EU digital Covid-certificate programme
  6. Johnson reshuffles UK cabinet: new foreign minister
  7. Macron says French forces killed Islamic State leader in Sahara
  8. Finance minister tipped to become Sweden's first female PM

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Von der Leyen issues rallying cry for more EU sovereignty
  2. Von der Leyen doubles up on vaccine-donation pledge
  3. Why won't EU forces fight together, von der Leyen asks?
  4. EU pitches infrastructure investment plan to rival China
  5. EU diplomats oppose common forest-monitoring rules
  6. EU 'stands by Afghans' but wants most kept away
  7. Russia's biggest enemy? Its own economy
  8. Textbook hypocrisy: EU's new low point on Palestine

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us