21st May 2019

Poland wants mini-president at EU helm

  • A VIP arrives for an EU summit. Poland does not want the new president to be too presidential. (Photo: EUobserver)

Poland has said it wants the new EU president to be a quiet consensus-builder who will not try to aggrandise the post, in what looks like another blow to British candidate Tony Blair.

"The President of the European Council, apart from chairing its sessions, should concentrate on ensuring the continuity of its works and on building consensus among representatives of member states. His/her right of authority should not be extended through non-treaty measures," it said in a position paper obtained by EUobserver.

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The two page document, entitled "Implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon," was given by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on 19 October and comes on top of earlier Polish proposals about the EU's new diplomatic corps.

The new post of President of the European Council is to be created when the Lisbon Treaty comes into force but it is not yet clear what form it should take.

The latest Polish paper envisages a primary role for the traditional EU presidency.

The rotating six-month chairmanship is to "guide the works of the Council of the European Union," while the new EU chief is to have a secondary function to "build on the achievements of the presidency."

The rotating chairmanship is also to present special reports about its pre-summit achievements to EU leaders and to host any extraordinary EU summits in its home country.

EU summit agendas and draft conclusions are to be tabled by the 27 EU foreign ministers.

Meanwhile, the new EU president is to be tied up in regular meetings with the rotating chair, the EU commission president, the EU parliament president and the new EU foreign minister to make sure he "co-ordinates" his ideas with the other institutions.

The Polish job description seems too small for a big international personality such as British ex-premier Tony Blair.

It echoes feeling in the Benelux countries, which in a joint paper earlier this month said that "the rotating six-month presidency will ...play a primary role" in what was interpreted as a broadside against Mr Blair's candidacy.

Poland will be looking to the Spanish EU presidency in the first half of 2010 to see how the new power-sharing set-up works in practice.

Warsaw will get its moment of EU fame in the second half of 2011 and has already begun making preparations. It plans to spend €103 million (Paris spent €151 million in 2008). It has published its list of political priorities and hired advisors from think-tanks such as the European Policy Centre, Bruegel and the Lisbon Council.

In autumn 2010 it will also cut the ribbon on a swanky new building to house its EU mission, just off the Schuman roundabout in the heart of the EU quarter. The new premises will house an extra 100 staff, doubling the Polish contingent to over 200 personnel, the equal of the largest permanent representations in the EU capital.


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