Friday

6th Aug 2021

Online campaigners aim to 'stop' Blair becoming EU president

An online campaign to petition against Tony Blair becoming President of the European Union is fast gathering signatures, even though the post has not even been officially created yet.

Due to come into effect with the new EU treaty, probably at the beginning of next year, the post of the EU president is expected to be a high profile job that can be held for a total of five years.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

  • Tony Blair has let it be known he is interested in the top EU job (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair has let it be known that he would be interested in the top job, although always with the coy proviso that he is accepted by the rest of the EU leaders.

But the British politician is not an uncontroversial figure. For some, it is unimaginable that a national of a country that is not part of core EU projects such as the eurozone and the Schengen borderless zone could represent Europe. His strong support for the US-led war on Iraq is also seen as a mark against him in some quarters.

The web-based petition, Stopblair.eu, seeks to tap into some of this anti-Blair feeling. Available in 11 languages, the petition already had over 4,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon (7 February), two days after it launch day, and aims to get 1 million signatures.

Jerome Guillet, a Paris-based banker and one of the founders to the petition, told EUobserver that the discussion about Mr Blair "seemed more intense lately. As this is an idea that we think is terrible, some of us decided to do something about it."

The petition - which has signatures mostly from the UK but also from France, Belgium, Portugal and Germany - says that if Mr Blair took on the post, it "would be in total contradiction with the values professed by the European project."

It also refers to the fact that a "large majority of European citizens opposed" the Iraq war.

The online campaign emerged from a community of pro-European bloggers based in France known as the European Tribune. According to Mr Guillet, they would rather see German former foreign minister Joschka Fischer get the job.

So far, talk about who should be the first president of the European Council – a two-and-a-half year post that may be renewed one time only - is in its early stages.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has indicated that he thinks Mr Blair, currently a Middle East envoy, could be good for the post.

But this has not stopped some speculation in Brussels that Mr Sarkozy's real aim may be to see Luxembourg's prime minister and veteran of the EU stage, Jean-Claude Juncker, become president instead.

Under this scenario, Mr Blair would be a front candidate to provide controversy so that EU leaders would then be happy to accept Mr Juncker as a compromise candidate.

However, others suggest that the Luxembourg leader's pro-European enthusiasm may be too much for other national capitals, such as London, to stomach.

But Mr Juncker and Mr Blair are likely to be only two of many names that will be tossed into the political ring before EU leaders make their final nomination, expected sometime in autumn.

Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals

Italy's interior minister Luciana Lamorgese has requested the EU convene an home affairs ministerial to discuss migrant and refugee arrivals - as NGOs seek to disembark over 800 rescued people.

Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates

Europe's least-vaccinated countries are in no short supply of Covid-19 jabs - and yet Romania and Bulgaria are both looking for opportunities to sell or donate their excess vaccines which they are not able to administer to their own population.

Opinion

Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine

Last month, president Ersin Tatar of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, unrecognised outside of Turkey, announced the second phase of reopening the derelict tourist district of Varosha in the city of Famagusta.

Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases

Europe has reported a decrease in weekly infections of Covid-19 - after more than a month of increases in cases driven by the more-contagious Delta variant.

Column

Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion

There are no fixed rules. Anyone can criticise, condone and codify women's apparel. The game is inclusive, bringing together an assorted collection of voyeurs, misogynists, racists, bigots, religious fanatics and culture warriors – but also feminists and other equality campaigners.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

Column

Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion

There are no fixed rules. Anyone can criticise, condone and codify women's apparel. The game is inclusive, bringing together an assorted collection of voyeurs, misogynists, racists, bigots, religious fanatics and culture warriors – but also feminists and other equality campaigners.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us