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It was an anti-Blair campaign, and not an anti-Brit campaign.

But what do you think of the large scale campaign mounted by Britain to get one of the two jobs, and do you think that it's amongst the first countries we should look to for a candidate for these EU-wide jobs? Why did the "no one from the big countries" somehow did not apply to the UK?

And can you not admit that for some people, it was also legitimately about him being a anti-EU Brit, even if we agreed to downplay this?

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:12:01 AM EST
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Is Ashton an anti-EU Brit?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:12:56 AM EST
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I don't know. Which is why I'm not enthusiastic, but not hostile (yet).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:23:43 AM EST
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I think the FT (of all people) put it best: Blair is the wrong man for EU job
But alongside the debris piled up by the Iraq catastrophe, Mr Blair blew a historic opportunity to embed Britain in Europe and change the British conversation about Europe. At a time when Britons of his generation have never felt more familiar with and at ease with their European neighbours, and when so many EU arguments were going the British way, Mr Blair all but abandoned any attempt to win domestic opinion to even the pragmatic case for pooling a small portion of British sovereignty, instead capitulating to the Eurosceptic and jingoist media. On leaving office he blamed the press for forcing Britain's leaders into a false dilemma of being for or against Europe: "it's either isolation or treason". But after his landslide 10 years earlier he could have crossed the English Channel on foot. Leaders are supposed to lead.
It's not that he was an anti-EU Brit. It's that being a Brit he proved he was anti-EU by failing to make the case for the EU to his fellow citizens when he enjoyed an immense amount of political capital.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:17:35 AM EST
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The "no-one from the big countries" argument has to be addressed separately for the two posts, because of their different impact on the composition of the Commission.

President: Sarkozy, Merkel and Brown were evidently unwilling to put themselves forward. Berlusconi? Let's not even go there. So we turn to past leaders... Chirac, Schröder? Blair appears to have been the only one ready to put his name in the frame and to have the support of his country's current leader. That second condition is pretty crucial, since I cannot imagine circumstances in which a big country candidate could ever be considered viable without the support of the current member of the European Council. So by a process of elimination, Blair was the only big country candidate for President.

For High Rep, there were viable names available from FR and DE, but evidently Merkel and Sarkozy valued an economic portfolio in the Commission (not to mention the next ECB president in Merkel's case) more highly (and we'll find out soon enough if they get them).

The question is why did Brown decide foreign policy was more important than economics? Is there some kind of deal in place that will give him/the UK something else? Or did Barroso and the EPP gang up and tell him the UK was never going to get a senior economic portfolio?

The clear message is that someone from a small country can be forced into an EU job by peer pressure, whereas a big country leader can tell their peers to get stuffed. What's not yet clear is whether the UK is now a small country, in these terms...

by koksapir on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:14:34 AM EST
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Blair was the only big country candidate for President.

At one point there was Felipe González, too.

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

by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:45:50 AM EST
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True, he was mentioned, but Spain and Poland are not quite big enough to be first-rank big countries. In any case, once Barroso was approved by the EP a Spanish candidate for either president or high rep stood very little chance.
by koksapir on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:47:07 AM EST
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