Greek foreign minister set to join convention
By Honor Mahony
The Greek foreign minister, Giorgios Papandréou, is due to join the Convention next month. He will be a member of the Convention's influential steering committee, the presidium, where he will replace the current Greek representative, Giorgos Katiforis.
This move by the Greeks, which "has not been officially announced yet" could strengthen the federalists hand in the Convention as Greece belong to those countries which would support a strong Commission in a future EU. The Commission is generally perceived as being the defender of the smaller member states. It is also likely to be positively interpreted by small countries as Athens has spoken out for maintaining the current six-month rotating presidency. At an explanatory session on the Greek presidency in Brussels in December, Mr Papandréou underlined the importance of maintaining the rotating-presidency.
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In earlier Convention plenary sessions, the Convention president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has strongly urged that this system be scrapped as it is too unwieldy and will be "unworkable" in an enlarged Union. It is supported by smaller states, however, as it guarantees them a chance at the helm of the EU - and so, in their eyes, ensures that the Union is not just governed by the larger member states.
Mr Panadreou will join fellow small-country representatives in the Presidium, the Irishman John Bruton, the Dane Henning Christophersen and the Belgian Jean-Luc Dehaene.
Illustrates importance of Convention
Greece's decision illustrates the importance which governments are attributing to the Convention and follows recent moves by France and Germany to appoint their foreign ministers, Dominque de Villepin and Joschka Fischer to the Convention.
The announcement that Mr Papandréou will be joining the Convention "will be made to the Greek people most likely sometime this month" said a spokesman. The foreign minister is set to join the Convention next month.