Tony Blair’s bid to become the president of a post-Lisbon Treaty European Council has run into choppy waters.
The former British prime minister is still the front-runner for the job- if it is ever created- but several countries have voiced their opposition to him. Blair had enjoyed the backing of several key states including France and Italy. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said of him: “Tony Blair is certainly a credible and charismatic leader. We will have to find a large consensus around him to overcome the resistance of some countries. It is clear that we have to find a European president who enjoys a large consensus, we believe this is a candidature that we can work on.” Blair’s support of the war in Iraq is one reason why many European ministers are looking to alternative candidates, as well as Britain’s absence from the Eurozone and Schengen agreement. For the moment though, the debate is purely theoretical. As Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger put it: “At the moment, we can’t decide about that because there is no real proposal for the President of the European Council…Of course, there are a lot of possibilities and there are a lot of names, but it is not the time to decide!” Any real campaigning for the as-yet inexistant post cannot really start until the Czech president puts his name to the Lisbon Treaty. Once that happens Blair will once again have an election fight on his hands.