Incoming European Council President Herman Van Rompuy continues to take the pulse in halls of EU power, the latest that of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Former Foreign Minister Michel Barnier was named as the European Union’s internal market commissioner last week. With this, even though Briton Catherine Ashton was named for the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Sarkozy set other pulses racing.
Talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown were cancelled on Friday. Both sides said this was because of “diary constraints”. But Sarkozy had hailed a Frenchman’s nomination to a post overseeing a European banking shake-up as a victory over London. The remarks have prompted speculation that Barnier may take extra care to allay various capitals’ concern that he serve European interests, limiting his and France’s scope to shape the regulatory overhaul. An experienced European Commission civil servant, Briton Jonathan Faull, will have a senior role under Barnier.