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Some less bigger pictures also relevant to the Bliar question:

  • Who will be the next Commission President? Barroso's (first?) term runs out in 2009, too. Government changes and the next EP vote might greatly influence various candidates' chances.

  • With all four main jobs up for grabs in 2009, what are the repercussions from the necessities of balance? The four top jobs have to offer representation across severa divides: left vs. right, small states vs. major states, North and South, East and West, and I fear integrationist vs. delayers, too.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:26:05 AM EST
Partial inspiration for the above is:

stanley's blog : The 2009 EU Troika

A new EU Commission takes office on 1 November 2009. The Lisbon Treaty is expected to come into force officially on 1 January 2009 but this date may slip. There is talk of a postponement until 1 November, but this would be of doubtful validity.

This gives rise to an intriguing situation relating to three key appointments: President of the European Council (EC), Foreign Policy Chief (oka `High Representative for Union Foreign Affairs and Security Policy') and President of the Commission. The orientation of the three and their ability to cooperate closely will be critical for the future of the Union.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:02:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On which positions does the EP have a say ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll pore over the consolidated version of the Treaty and report back.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:12:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the IEA's Treaty of Lisbon 2007: Consolidated Treaties version:
Article 14
1. The European Parliament shall, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions. It shall exercise functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties. It shall elect the President of the Commission.

...

  1. The European Parliament shall elect its President and its officers from among its members.
The procedure is spelled out more fully in a later article:
Article 17
  • Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure.

    The Council, by common accord with the President-elect, shall adopt the list of the other persons whom it proposes for appointment as members of the Commission. They shall be selected, on the basis of the suggestions made by Member States, in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraph 3, second subparagraph, and paragraph 5, second subparagraph.

    The President, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the other members of the Commission shall be subject as a body to a vote of consent by the European Parliament. On the basis of this consent the Commission shall be appointed by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority.

    8. The Commission, as a body, shall be responsible to the European Parliament. In accordance with Article 234 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Parliament may vote on a motion of censure of the Commission. If such a motion is carried, the members of the Commission shall resign as a body and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall resign from the duties that he carries out in the Commission.

  • So, the President of the Commission requires a qualified majority of the Council and a majority of the Parliament. The same is then true of the rest of the Commission including the HRCFSP who will be nominated by the Council and the President of the Commission jointly.

    The President of the European Council is not subject to any control by any other body. As such, he is more analogous to the President of the Parliament and should be a mostly ceremonial and procedural position. Executive and representational powers should be strictly limited to the Commission President and the HRCFSP, who are approved by all the European institutions and subject to Parliamentary control.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 06:59:31 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I wonder what would happen were the Parliament and the Council to be of different political persuasion. None as a clear legitimacy advantage over the other ; and whereas as migeru pointed out the council backed out in 2004, it was on a few commissioners, not on the commission president.

    Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
    by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 09:11:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]

    The President of the European Council is not subject to any control by any other body. As such, he is more analogous to the President of the Parliament and should be a mostly ceremonial and procedural position.

    This is the reason why Blair is "playing hard to get"-- he knows that the position is hugely ceremonial and is saying that he wants the European Council president to have more powers.

    In my view, the job description of the E Council president as is or as you describe it should hold -- the position is an appointment, not elected, as you rightly pointed out, the 'appointed' person thus should stick to ceremonial and procedural duties.

    Blair would be the wrong man for the job; he is the quintessential underground lobbyist, a steamy wheeler dealer par excellence and if appointed, would be bound to do the EU great harm by causing division from within. The E Council president must be a consesus builder and not a divider.

    by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 09:27:44 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Assuming you ask about my "top four positions", then on the one stanley doesn't mention, its own President, a position to be renewed after the 2009 EP elections, too. (Current incumbent: Hans Pöttering/EPP/CDU.)

    I haven't checked out what exactly the EP will be able to do under Lisbon with the Commission President named by the Council.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:13:23 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, and could the EP cease this absurdity of sharing its president's position between PSE and EPP ? This is a political assembly, and bipartisanship doesn't help making European politics any more understandable, and probably weakens the parliament.

    Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
    by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:17:07 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Just found, also relevant:

    EurActiv.com - Appointing the next European Council president | EU - European Information on EU Priorities & Opinion

    The nomination of the Council president is too important to take place amid behind-closed-doors negotiations between heads of government, writes Lamassoure on BlogActiv - arguing that the identity of the first holder will be crucial as he/she will give the position its "dimension and style". 

    Instead, the MEP suggests that candidates be invited to declare themselves publicly before a given deadline, calling for an end to "behind-closed doors manoeuvres" in favour of public competition. 

    He proposes that each one be given equal opportunity to state how he/she conceives the new role and outline his/her vision of the relationship with the Commission president and foreign policy chief during a televised hearing before the European Council. After the public hearings, the Council would select its new president by qualified majority vote

    It is believed the move would eliminate secrecy through increased media access, allowing the public to easily relate to the appointment process and thus giving the winning candidate greater legitimacy. 

    Meanwhile, Lamassoure explains the significance of the three new personalities - Council president, Commission president and foreign policy chief - assuming their positions at the same time. He warns that as the Lisbon Treaty does not prescribe any hierarchy between the positions and their competencies often overlap, the success of the new set-up will heavily depend on good relations between the individuals concerned. 



    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:05:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    One of the reasons De Gaulle was able to win the referendum on universal suffrage for the election of the President of the Republic was that the precedent presidential election, in 1954, had been covered by TV - so early in the TV period, politicians weren't aware of the dangers of it exposing to all their back room negotiations.

    The 1954 election was so disputed, that it went to the 13th round of voting. The election intervened recently after a very tough debate and split vote on the Communauté Européenne de Défense - the failure of which being the reason that the European Countries mainly developed the Common Market at first.

    The reason René Coty was eventually elected was that because he had suffered an heart attack at the time of the CED vote, he had not expressed any opinion on the issue and thus was the only candidate who could get the 3/5th majority needed to elect a president.

    A "public" debate requires universal suffrage. Why not set it up now ?

    Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

    by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:13:45 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm not sure what you propose in the last sentence: a directly elected Council President?

    If yes, I am strongly opposed: that would cement the Council's dominance feh' sure. I would swallow an elected Commission President, though I'd prefer its election by the EP.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:35:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What I'm wondering about is a way to make elections European rather than a collection of national elections. How is that possible with parliament elections? Although the failure of single-man elections is that they give too much power to that man and lead to personality and popularity contests.

    I agree on your argument - the president of the Council shouldn't be elected by the population. What I'm wondering about is how the Bundesrat functions ; does its influence on Federal politics influence the State-level elections ? How is it followed by the press ?

    How long would the European population bear the undemocratic nature of the council, if made aware of it ? The US senators weren't nominated by governors for such a long time, too.

    Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

    by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:45:46 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    On 'Europeanising' parliament elections in the public's mind, I can think of two things: (1) have the EP parties run directly, rather than through their local branches; (2) make the Commission truly EP-elected, which would focus voterss' minds. Of course, the 'Eurosceptics' would oppose the latter change tooth-and-nails.

    On the Bundesrat: it is followed by the press, much more so than the EU Council, because they can block legislation passed by the elected lower chamber (the Bundestag), and negotiate a modified version (which IIRC then needs Bundestag approval again in each case). The federal-local entanglement is more complex than we can expect for the EU in the near future: it's not only that there are regional expectations on a state PM to deliver something, but state PMs also play party politics, and regional elections are often influenced by the mood on federal politics. Even if I don't think most voters consciously vote for changing the Bundesrat composition, there's the intent to change federal politics and it can bear results.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 06:17:39 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Bundestag vs. Bundesrat: GG Art. 77.


    "If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
    by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 02:17:33 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Council President is not an executive position. It's a facilitator, and is also analogous to the Speaker of a parliamentary assembly (if you think of the Council as a Bundesrat or Senate, the President is like the Chairman).

    As such, I see no need for it to be directly elected.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:50:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    participated in the debate in the blog of Stanley Crossick about the new President (his comment).

    Note that Euractiv would not mention our petition because they felt they had already discussed the issue, but suggested that I open a blog with them.

    In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

    by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:37:18 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I think Euractiv's real beef was that posting this would make them partial, and they are supposed to be open to Bliarites, too.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.
    by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:39:29 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'll take a partial stab at the second point. On the first, since we're not in on the old male clique that so pisses off Wallström and us, we won't know for sure who's in the running. It appears that Solana will be retiring as HRCFSP.

    Given the political balance as it now stands, the four top jobs should probably be shared in the following way: 2 EPP, 1 PSE, 1 ELDR. The current arrangement is:

    • Commission President: Barroso (EPP)
    • EP President: Pöttering (EPP) for the second half of the term, Borrell (PSE) for the first half
    • HRCFSP and Council Secretary General: Solana (PSE)


    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:11:44 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Chances are that Solana and Barroso will continue on their jobs in 2009. For the EP, other PES and EPP members would.

    If we manage to blow Blair out of the water, Jean-Claude Juncker is the most likely Council President (which would not be a bad thing, IMO he's better for that job than as Commission President).

    We can still determine the Commission President through the elections for the EP, but there has to be a resounding loss for the EPP.

    by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 07:19:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The bit I don't understand is who reports to who?  If the High Representative for Union Foreign Affairs and Security Policy disagrees radically with the President of the Council on a key foreign policy issue - e.g. rendition flights - how is the dispute resolved  Who is the boss in this situation - or is this a silly managerialist question to be asking?

    "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:33:17 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Read the treaty, I guess.

    Depending on the situation, it seems possible to me that the answer could be the European courts, the Council, or the Commission. I haven't looked to see how that's set-up.

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:39:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The President of the Council doesn't have a policy portfolio, according to the Treaties.

    If enough Member State foreign ministers disagree with the HR then the area in question is not part of the "common" policy.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:49:17 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    European Tribune - The bigger picture
    The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

    How can the President of the Council represent the EU abroad if he doesn't have a policy portfolio and if external affairs is essentially the responsibility of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy?  This seems a recipe for role conflict - as has already begun:
    European Tribune - The bigger picture

    Now, Blair as president of the Council would want to usurp these attributions of the HRCFSP. That is what the whole Blair row is all about. A move of foreign relations from the Commission towards the Council, to a position somewhat in the middle of the two.

    In fact the President of the European Council role seems to be little more than Secretary General of the Council which is half the job Solana currently holds.

    So what's all the fuss about?  The actual job spec. is half of Solana's job plus a largely titular role to represent the EU abroad like a formal head of State with no policy or executive functions.

    Why would Blair even want that job?

    And what is the point of him saying he wants control of trade, foreign policy etc. if that is explicitly not in the Treaty definition of the President of the Council role?

    There is something funny going on here - all does not quite seem to be what it seems.  The Secretary General of the Council role seems to be a kind of fixer role for a good negotiator - someone like Bertie Ahern - but not really a prestigious or leadership role as neither the Commission nor the Foreign Policy Chief is under his/her control.

    It makes sense to create such a post because rotating the "President of the Council" role between 27 heads of Government every 6 months is clearly unworkable in terms of continuity and suitability, and all the Heads of Govt. have much more important and busy jobs to do heading up their own Governments.  

    But the job as defined seems to be all responsibility and no power - you are responsible for moving the EU forward and yet all the key functions are controlled by the commission, foreign policy chief, Parliament etc.

    The Chief of Staff to an American President - a role not even in the US constitution - seems to have a lot more power than this - as he controls most appointments, agendas and access to a President who has real power.

    I can't see how this is going to work long term - what is the plan for when the inevitable failure occurs - a directly elected President of the Council?

    "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:38:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "rotating the "President of the Council" role between 27 heads of Government every 6 months is clearly unworkable " technically should have read 27 foreign Ministers, but in practice it seems to be the Head of Government of the country holding the Presidency who takes the lead role at the moment.  I can't see Sarkozy, Brown, etc. being prepared to play second fiddle to the new Presidency of the Council role under any circumstances.

    "It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
    by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:52:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The Council has various "configurations". The Foreign Minister chairs all the configurations, except when there is a summit every 3 months, at which the bug honchos meet and decide over whatever agreements their underlings have spent 3 months hashing out.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:00:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, Solana has been Secretary General for I don't know how many years and there hasn't been a meltdown.

    Frank Schnittger:

    But the job as defined seems to be all responsibility and no power - you are responsible for moving the EU forward and yet all the key functions are controlled by the commission, foreign policy chief, Parliament etc.
    No, the President of the Council is not responsible for moving the EU forward. It is responsible for getting the Council to stop bickering and stop negotiating. The Council and its unanimity rules are the biggest bottleneck in the Union, and the 6 month rotating presidency doesn't help because of the lack of continuity (an attempt at resolving this was the 18-month troika) and because the governments seem to be more concerned with grandstanding and legacy than with getting stuff done.

    So, yes, possibly a thankless job if you want lots of media projection, but a good job for a good diplomat (I hear Solana has been described as a consummate diplomat, BTW).

    How can the President of the Council represent the EU abroad
    Again, he doesn't have to, because he represents only the Council. The HR represents the EU abroad.
    I can't see how this is going to work long term - what is the plan for when the inevitable failure occurs - a directly elected President of the Council?
    Refer toThe bigger picture:
    The Council has, in fact, made a great big mess of the Treaties (and the Eastward expansion) since the ill-fated Nice summit at the end or the previous French Presidency in 2000. It's, in a way, their mess; it's taken them all this time to fix it and it's not clear that they have succeeded.


    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:58:21 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    getting the Council to stop bickering and stop negotiating.

    LOL! That would be the job for Bliar :-)

    Also loved "bug honchos" upthread.

    *Lunatic*, n.
    One whose delusions are out of fashion.

    by DoDo on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:06:32 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    LOO, I can't type today.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:08:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Not totally, at least you have specified the case to some extent.

    As migeru says, the main question is how many, and which, member states back which entity. Neither has much power without member state backing.

    Though the high representative already exists, the position will be more cristallised under the new treaty, and the president is an entirely new position.

    How these positions evolve typically depends upon a number of policy fights -- that is, the institutions and their powers evolve as a set of commonly accepted rules of 'how things are done' emerges.

    The rules governing the high representative and the council president are vague enough for that, from what I've read in the Lisbon treaty -- though I did not read everything. But it's also something you see throughout the history of the EU and international institutions in general.

    For these reasons, the question which person will be the first in the office of president will be quite important.

    So, now you still don't know the anwer to your question, and you should have some new questions :-)

    by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:18:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    As it is currently there is the Foreign Minister of the rotating presidency, the HR, and the Commissioner for External Relations. This tricephaly was a problem: it was never clear who was in charge.

    The intent of the new treaty is to clear this mess by making the HR paramount. The letter of the new treaty has this bit about the President can represent the   council internationally without prejudice of the HR's attributions. So letter and intent are clear. The HR also has to report to the Parliament every 6 months, not so the Council President.

    This makes it clear why it is such a problem when Blair says "I'll be president if you give me foreign policy powers".

    We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:27:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

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