Tuesday

28th Feb 2017

Barroso and Sarkozy plead for permanent EU presidency

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and French President Nicolas Sarkozy - currently chairing the EU - have urged the need for a permanent EU presidency to replace the rotating system.

"We need a president of the Council [the institution representing EU member states] that does not change every six months," Mr Barroso told journalists at the end of an EU leaders' meeting in Brussels on Thursday (16 October). "To lead [EU] member states, we need a very strong presidency."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • French leader Nicolas Sarkozy - could he be the first permanent EU president? (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The EU's Lisbon treaty - rejected by Ireland in June but already ratified by 22 EU states - puts forward a permanent head of the council as one of its key reforms.

Relations between Mr Barroso and Mr Sarkozy have warmed in the last months, with the French president referring to Mr Barroso by his first name, Jose Manuel, during Thursday's post-summit press conference and with the commission president even proposing the French leader fill the post.

"I do not know whether we are in condition to propose to president Sarkozy to be president of the European Council - I think he does not want it after his experience in the last months," Mr Barroso said referring to the Russia-Georgia conflict and the financial crisis, which the French president has had to tackle.

"In any case, me, I would vote in favour, of course," Mr Barroso added, smiling.

Mr Sarkozy stressed that the current situation of the EU presidency rotating from country to country every six months "must change," so that "tough dossiers" do not keep being passed around.

But he made it clear that EU president or not, he would remain closely involved in the bloc's affairs.

"It is not because one is not president of the Council that one can say nothing in Europe. France will continue to say things [after its presidency ends on 31 December]. We will perhaps still have the right, no?" he said.

"Yes," Mr Barroso replied.

French presidency noted 11.5 out of 20 at mid-term

Meanwhile, an independent Brussels-based think-tank has said the French presidency of the EU deserves a mark of 11.5 out of 20 for its mid-term performance.

The Thomas More Institute for European studies gave Paris its highest marks – nine and eight out of 10 respectively – for delivering an immigration pact, which will govern the way the bloc tackles migration and which EU leaders adopted on Thursday (16 October), and its plans to deal with the global financial crisis.

But France "can do better" when it comes to climate change and energy security, and has only provided "minimum service" to deal with the EU's institutional turmoil provoked by the Irish rejection of Lisbon, the Institute said on Wednesday.

The think-tank based its assessment on a study of 12 major themes of the French EU presidency – which started on 1 July – and took into account "not only the results obtained but also the implications and capacity of [French president] Nicolas Sarkozy and the French government to work in concert with France's partners."

Juncker envisages EU of core groups

Commission head Juncker say EU states which want deeper integration should press ahead in core groups, in reaction to the UK’s departure.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Le Pen used 'fake' EU parliament jobs

A leaked EU anti-fraud office report says French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, had her bodyguard and personal assistant paid by the EU parliament for jobs they did not do.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen party in new EU fraud allegations
  2. May to end rights of EU nationals after Article 50 triggered
  3. Nato warns against Armenia-Azerbaijan 'escalation'
  4. EU: No military solution to Nagorno-Karabakh war
  5. EU adopts visa-free brake mechanism
  6. Trump and Brexit drew on same resources
  7. Romanian protestors form EU flag at anti-government rally
  8. Over 3,500 attacks on refugees in Germany: report

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFA Deadly Journey for Children: The Migration Route From North Africa to Europe
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  4. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  6. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  7. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  8. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  9. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  10. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen