Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was much talked-about at the EU summit and beforehand, but his chances of filling the new post of individual EU president have dwindled. The job will be created under the Lisbon Treaty once it is in force. Blair’s past ties with Bush in Iraq and the UK’s EU record notwithstanding, Downing Street backed him to the hilt.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “I think I am right to say that Britain has someone in Tony Blair who would make an excellent President of the Council of the European Union. I think that there are many people who are members of the Council that accept that and believe that to be true.” Yet Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodrigues Zapatero’s favour for a candidate of the centre-left in the post of high representative for foreign affairs leaves the presidency open to a centre-right candidate. A political heavyweight in the job would not be to everyone’s taste. Belgian leader Herman van Rampoy said: “The new president should indeed be someone looking for compromise, for consensus, for agreement among 27 countries.” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker has surfaced as an alternative, but the British and eastern EU members are less keen on his federalist approach to Europe. There has been mention of other candidates, with a consensual lower-profile style. Juncker said the name will be decided at a summit in the middle of November.