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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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