Wed Oct 14th, 2009 at 06:04:30 AM EST
The Mary Robinson for President of the European Council hype is getting stronger in the European press, with pieces in EurActiv, the EUobserver, and The Parliament Magazine.
The article in EurActiv also reports on mounting opposition to Blair - and the role envisaged for him by his supporters - in Poland and Spain:
Polish daily Dziennik yesterday (13 October) reported that Warsaw will send its official position concerning the kind of competences the new Council president should have to other EU capitals later this week.
The Poles, it is claimed, will take a strong line against the presidential position becoming the influential globe-trotting 'face' of the EU that many experts expect it to be, particularly should a global figure such as Tony Blair get the job [...].
Instead, Warsaw foresees the new president as a secretary general-type figure who will chair EU summits and coordinate the daily work of the Council, without taking any strategic decisions.
According to European Commission sources, Spain and other EU countries are also interested in the idea of the Council president being more of a low-key organiser, and could back Poland in its motion.
Under this scenario, EU leaders could coalesce around Mary Robinson as a candidate, the sources said.
EurActiv points out that Mary Robinson is the only candidate so far to get backing from civil society. A facebook group
supporting her candidacy has drawn thousands of members since it was launched nine days ago, including Commissioner Margot Wallström. This is in sharp contrast to the complete lack of enthusiasm for Tony Blair.
Honor Mahony develops the point in the EUobserver:
There are EU council president facebook groups for ex British prime minister Tony Blair and former Irish president Mary Robinson. The former has 226 members. The latter’s group has 4,789 members.
Could Mrs Robinson be someone who could both capture EU popular imagination and interest as well as solve the dilemma the EU leaders seem to find themselves in: Finding a person who would be taken seriously by other countries but would not run away with the role?
We shall see. It is very early days still and she is not yet on the ’serious contender’ list. And those who make it onto the list too early are often not those who are ultimately nominated.
The most active anti-Blair group
more than 1,000 members, by the way.
Meanwhile, opposition to Blair is mounting as support for Robinson is building among prominent Members of European Parliament. Score one: The Parliament Magazine.
Leading French Socialist MEP Pervenche Berès, who chairs the parliament's employment and social affairs committee, is even more anti-Blair [than Martin Schulz - nanne], telling this website, “A lot of Socialists have not forgotten Blair for his wholehearted support for the US-led war in Iraq. He does not represent the views of real Socialists and there is no way he should be considered.”
Yet more opposition comes from highly-regarded ex-Spanish MEP Enrique Barón Crespo, a former president of the European parliament, who believes the post should not to go Blair but to a woman, such as Ireland's Mary Robinson.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the joint leader of the Greens in parliament, agrees, saying, "There is no way Blair should get this job. He did nothing to defend European interests when he was PM and has done even less as a Middle East envoy."
Score two: LibDem MEP George Lyon in the Scotsman
While opposition to a potential Blair Presidency has been growing, the clamour for former Irish President Mary Robinson to emerge as a consensus candidate has been quietly but quickly gathering pace.
After hugely successful terms as both President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Robinson possesses all the credentials in which Mr Blair is so deficient. Respected across the globe, she is exactly the kind of person we need to hold the office of EU President in its infancy.
It is the duty of a responsible Government to back a candidate that can enjoy the support of the majority, not the minority. In backing Mary Robinson over Tony Blair, the UK Government can show that the position of EU President is far too important to be governed by tribalism.
Now that the presidency of the European Parliament and the European Commission have gone both to conservative men, we need to get at least one woman (preferably two) for the remaining top posts of European Council President and High Representative. Mary Robinson would be an inspired choice.