Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

News From The Front... Or The Back

by afew Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 02:42:11 AM EST

Jean Quatremer, in his Backstage Brussels blog (h/t nanne), has some apparently definitive news:

Coulisses de Bruxelles, UE: Tony Blair, président du Conseil européen, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, ministre des Affaires étrangères de l’Union ?

« Personne n’a osé s’opposer à Barroso. Qui osera dire non à Tony Blair ? » Pour ce diplomate français de haut rang, l’affaire est entendue : l’ancien Premier ministre britannique sera bien le premier président du Conseil européen des chefs d’État et de gouvernement, une fonction créée par le traité de Lisbonne que toutes les capitales européennes espèrent voir entrer en vigueur d’ici à la fin de l’année.

"No one dared oppose Barroso. Who will dare say no to Tony Blair?" This top level French diplomat thinks the business is settled: the former PM of Britain will surely be the first president of the European Council of heads of state and government, a function created by the Lisbon treaty that all European capitals hope to see applied by the end of the year.
La guerre en Irak, qui est une tâche sanglante sur son CV, ne sera en aucun cas un empêchement dirimant : « seule l’opinion publique est encore sensible à cette question, pas ses électeurs qui sont les 27 chefs d’État et de gouvernement », poursuit ce diplomate. « Le seul qui pourrait s’y opposer, c’est José Luis Zapatero », le premier ministre espagnol. Mais on le voit mal prendre la tête d’une croisade contre un ancien premier socialiste alors qu’il vient de soutenir la réélection à la tête de la Commission d’un ancien premier ministre conservateur tout aussi favorable à la guerre en Irak, José Manuel Durao Barroso… Et comme on le note à Paris, « ce qui a bénéficié à Barroso bénéficiera à Blair » : de fait, aucun politique n’a fait connaître son intérêt pour ce poste, « ce qui montre soit la médiocrité de la classe politique européenne, soit le désintérêt croissant que suscitent ces postes », ironise un observateur bruxellois.The Iraq war, a bloody stain on his CV, will in no way be an obstacle: "only public opinion is still sensitive to this question, not his electors who are the 27 heads of state and government", the diplomat goes on. "The only one who could stand in the way is Jose-Luis Zapatero", the Spanish PM. But it's hard to see how he could lead a crusade against a socialist former premier when he has just supported the re-election as head of the Commission of a conservative former PM who was just as favourable to the Iraq war, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso... And, as noted in Paris, "what worked in Barroso's favour will work in Blair's": in fact, no politician has declared her/is interest for the post, "which shows either the mediocrity of the European political class, or the growing lack of interest that these posts arouse", a Brussels observer said with irony.

Hmmm. In fact, has any politician declared an interest? Blair hasn't said a word. And, if declaring an interest just means starting rumours, here's another:


EurActiv.com - Dutch PM said to be eyeing EU president job | EU - European Information on EU Priorities & Opinion

A leading Dutch source in Brussels told EurActiv that Balkenende "definitely wants the job," adding that "the rumour is being fed from The Hague".

Balkenende, the Christian Democrat leader of the Netherlands since 2002, has issued repeated public denials of his interest in the new EU 'top job', which will be created should the Lisbon Treaty's ratification be finalised in Ireland, Poland and Czech Republic. When questioned recently on the issue in the Dutch parliament, he described the growing speculation as "nonsense". 

However, when put on the spot by the opposition, he refused to give categorical assurances that he would finish his term as prime minister, fuelling further rumour-mongering in both The Hague and Brussels.

Furthermore, the source, who did not wish to be named, believes that Balkenende will have a high-profile backer in re-elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ah, Merkel. It's now clear she'll be German Chancellor, so no hope of pulling her out of a hat to fill the president of the European Council job. German attitudes to that job are not favourable to the big, grandstanding version that would be Blair's. A point that Quatremer's informants seem to have left out...

I'll post a more in-depth piece on how the presidency post came into being and was defined (or not defined), later today.

Display:
Quatremer's story is also that Steinmeïer would be High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Merkel is going to back a "socialist" for each of these top posts?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 02:55:37 AM EST
I just posted a comment re the StopBlair petition on Quatremer's blog.

Given the way they failed to oppose Barroso, I doubt the European Socialists will do anything against Tony Blair, they will probably be happy to have Steinmeier as a Minister of Foreign Affairs.

BTW, I don't think Merkel sees Blair as a socialist (neither do I),

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 03:38:42 AM EST
Who thinks Westerwelle is going to allow Steinmeier to compete with him on Foreign Policy from Brussels?

If Merkel manages to get Steinmeier the job without jeopardising her coalition government with the FDP she'll have proven she's a consummate politician.

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 Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 03:52:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be honest, I think Merkel can eat Westerwelle for breakfast. No match for her. It's more interesting what strings Genscher will pull from the background.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 04:47:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On a procedural point, the Foreign Ministers, who previously attended European Council meetings with their heads of government, will no longer do so under Lisbon (too many people round the table).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 1st, 2009 at 02:22:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair is, on paper, a socialist, like Steinmeïer. And conservatives may well want at least two out of the three top jobs. They currently have one.

Also, the question is less what the European Socialists would do, or not do, against Blair (this isn't the Barroso EP vote), but the attitude of different countries to the presidency of the European Council and the type of candidate for it: big or small country, grandstander or efficient worker?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 04:08:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tony Blair is perfect for Serious People: he's Serious himself (ie rightwing) but he's officially a lefty, which makes it damn convenient when you need to say things like "the left also supports xx or yy" or "there's a diversity of political forces represented here and who support xx" or, conversely, you need to criticize his policies - they"re "leftwing."

Just like the bank bailout (nationalizing the losses, but not the banks) is labelled "socialism" to make it look consensual, to steal arguments from the left, and blame the left for the mess that will remain.

That tour de passe-passe (trick) is one of the wickedest things the right (helped by the ThirdWayers) has done to the left in a long while.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 04:10:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The left did it to themselves, in a (successful) attempt to remain "electable".

I wonder where we would be today if the left hadn't been implementing the neoliberal economic consensus while in power for the past 15 years.

Possibly they would have won fewer elections (at least the left political parties believe this) but they would now be wiping the floor with the economic right in elections.

As it is, they have no credibility to challenge the economic consensus.

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 Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 04:25:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and he ran policies that were much less neoliberal than elsewhere (and worked).

And he lost because too much of the left still found that to be too centrist, with the results we know.

So this is not a black and white debate either.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 05:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And because the French election system is seriously lousy ; and because Jospin dropped the gun in allowing the presidential elections to come before the legislative elections...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 05:27:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(And also he didn't try to get through any kind of proportional representation in the legislative assembly, which would have meant the many French left parties would have had another means of existence beyond the presidential election)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 05:29:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't rub salt in our collective wounds...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 05:40:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And also was a lousy electoral politician who thought people made up their minds on substance (and in the second round, where he was bound to be present, so it wasn't worth working hard on the first).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 05:46:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He lost much more for the reasons linca and I give, imo.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 05:48:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
with the reasons you state, but my point was that there WAS an exemple of the reasonably traditional left winning and then pursuing reasonably left-of-center policies that actually worked.

Of course, he (and his government) was demonized for it- witness the 35-hour week deluge of propaganda, or the "France is declining" meme.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 06:59:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That reminds me.

Has there been any analyses of which party groups voted for and which voted against Barroso (and which split their votes)?

I am considering changing my signature but I need more data.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 06:26:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the Greek socialists voted against Barroso, I wonder if one can get them to declare their opposition to Blair's ambitions while still campaigning and trying to pick up votes from the left.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Sep 30th, 2009 at 09:21:27 AM EST
Tanned, rested, ready to go...
by glacierpeaks (glacierpeaks@comcast.net) on Thu Oct 1st, 2009 at 04:40:35 AM EST
Yes, even at 84, he would dwarf the current candidates...

And I really would like to see Barroso under a Delors presidency...

 

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Oct 1st, 2009 at 09:27:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries