Wednesday

27th Mar 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

EU on path towards whistleblower protection

EU lawmakers and member states have struck a political deal on the first-ever EU-wide directive on whistleblower protection - following years of big tax-evasion revelations and the laundering of dirty money in European banks.

Germany's CDU lukewarm on Macron's EU vision

Germany's anointed new leader has echoed France in calling for EU reform to combat populism - but with a stronger role for national governments and with little prospect of sharing German wealth.

Exclusive

Sefcovic campaign videos feature fellow commissioners

Maros Sefcovic, commission vice-president in charge of Energy Union, is running to be president of Slovakia. Now two of his fellow EU commissioners have endorsed him - raising questions about their independence.

EU college defends Saudi-style visits, attacks 'sloppy' media

College of Europe rector Jorg Monar says the surplus money made from setting up closed-door meetings between the Saudi government and EU officials, including MEPs, "would barely cover the replacement costs of a beamer in a College seminar room."

News in Brief

  1. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us