Monday

13th Jul 2020

Member states consider perks and staff for new EU president

EU member states have begun preliminary talks on some of the most political aspects of the bloc's new treaty – the office set-up for the proposed new full-time president, the shape of the diplomatic service and the power-sharing arrangement for the regular ministerial meetings in Brussels.

With the European Commission due to present the first draft of the 2009 budget later this month, EU ambassadors last week discussed a possible salary, number of staff and perks for the EU president – a job created by the new treaty which is supposed to come into force on 1 January next year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Some representative foreign affairs functions are also considered part of the new president's job (Photo: European Parliament)

Characterising the talks as "very abstract and very general", an EU diplomat said that there appeared to be general agreement that that the president of the council – whose job description has yet to be defined – will get the same sort of treatment as the president of the European Commission.

This would mean a salary of around €270,000, a chauffeured car, a housing allowance and a personal staff of around 20.

What the EU president will actually do remains unclear.

The post may be purely administrative such as chairing EU leader meetings or could evolve into a much more high-profile and powerful role – a true face of the European Union.

But speculation that the new president may get a special residence and a presidential jet was dismissed by several officials as being too "symbolic", whatever the job description.

One diplomat pointed out that the perk discrepancy between the presidents of the commission and the council cannot be too big, so as not to enhance the expected rivalry between the holders of the two posts.

However the commission is not expected to mention the EU president's salary in its first budget draft for fear of upsetting the current ratification process of the EU treaty - particularly in Ireland which is to have a referendum.

Diplomatic service

Member states have also begun looking at the set up of the diplomatic service - a new body meant to back up the new foreign minister post and give coherence to the bloc's external policy.

A briefing note circulated to ambassadors reminds them that "technical work" must begin now to ensure it goes into effect quickly after the treaty enters into force.

Member states have been asked to consider what kind of extra money should be foreseen for the service and whether they still believe - as on previous discussions on the shelved EU constitution - that the service should be linked to both member states and the commission.

This is a highly political question with some countries and MEPs fearing that if the commission is not fully involved, then the diplomatic service will simply become a tool of larger countries.

EU diplomats must also grapple with the set up of the regular ministerial meetings. This runs the gamut from exactly what powers will fall to the foreign minister when chairing the external relations council to when agendas should be sent out for the meeting and "who should pay for the postage stamps," noted one EU official.

The treaty discussions come as just nine of the 27 member states have ratified the new document. The Lisbon Treaty needs all countries' approval for it to come into force with the political discussions set to be ratcheted up a notch in the second half of this year.

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss

The European Parliament is refusing to disclose documents on an internal debate on whether to set up e-cigarette smoking booths at its premises in Strasbourg and Brussels, posing questions on how it handles transparency on relatively minor issues.

EU parliament chairs explain missing lobbyist meetings

MEPs in January 2019 agreed to a rule change in a bid for greater transparency. The rules included requiring committee chairs to publish their meetings with registered lobbyists. EUobserver spoke to six chairs, who haven't done so yet.

News in Brief

  1. Citizens' perception of judicial independence drops
  2. Irish finance minister voted in as eurogroup president
  3. Italy's League party opens office near old communist HQ
  4. 'Significant divergences' remain in Brexit talks
  5. Germany identifies 32,000 right-wing extremists
  6. WHO to hold probe of global Covid-19 response
  7. China accuses Australia of 'gross interference' on Hong Kong
  8. EU to let Croatia, Bulgaria take first step to join euro

Commission chief under fire for Croatia campaign video

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recorded a video in support of Croatia's ruling party, which the EU executive said was in her "personal capacity" - and admits it was a "mistake" that this was not made clear.

Parliament vaping booths 'too confidential' to discuss

The European Parliament is refusing to disclose documents on an internal debate on whether to set up e-cigarette smoking booths at its premises in Strasbourg and Brussels, posing questions on how it handles transparency on relatively minor issues.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  2. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  3. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds
  4. MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform
  5. If EU wants rule of law in China, it must help 'dissident' lawyers
  6. Five ideas to reshape 'Conference on Future of Europe'
  7. EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece
  8. Hydrogen strategy criticised for relying on fossil fuel gas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us