Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Internally Michel and VDL represent two different institutions and methods within the EU - the inter-governmental and community methods which both play an important role in determining policy and are part of the institutional balance of powers so beloved of (especially US) constitutional theorists. The EP and ECB are to other important power centres, but the Commission and Council are the most important.

I'm quite sure there are huge political tensions between these power centres particularly in contested areas of competence and the balance of power can change over time. But it shouldn't be beyond the wit of mature and skilled politicians to coordinate policies and present a united front abroad. Brexiteer attempts to divide and conquer the EU didn't get far. Even the blame games over vaccine s haven't yet become over personalised, though not without some governments trying it on.

But if Michel was complicit in dissing VDL on this occasion, then he is the big loser in this affair. You have to present a united front when abroad, and he let the whole EU down if he allowed her to be snubbed, especially with women's equality so high on the agenda. She appears to have handled it with some dignity in public, but I imagine there was war behind the scenes. While VDL has her critics, Michel seems to be a bit of a non-entity as far as I can see.

I don't think the EU should abandon such complexity and  cave into the "strongman" model of governance where all policy seems to revolve around a central figure like Trump, Boris, Erdogan or Orban. I quite like the fact that the EU has virtually no military capability or culture, but that doesn't mean it should shy away from using its soft or economic power when required.

I appreciate that, as Oui notes, Turkey plays a key role in east European and near middle east politics, but actions such as snubbing VDL and abandoning the Istanbul convention should have consequences, perhaps in the form of travel ban in the current situation as I don't trust Turkish covid statistics since Erdogan sought to minimise the numbers to avoid damage to the tourist trade.

Your point that despots need to do brinkmanship for domestic consumption to shore up their positions is well made, but the EU also needs to show competence, coherence, and decisiveness in the face of common threats or crises and that means consistent messaging and coordinated actions - in this case against oppression and demeaning of women. If Michel can't be on that team then it is he who should be replaced. I imagine Angela might be having a word...

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 11th, 2021 at 09:54:11 AM EST
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