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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 ]

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