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Test time for EU's new Lisbon figures

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Test time for EU's new Lisbon figures

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The first EU leaders’ Council summit to be held under the newly-approved Lisbon reform Treaty means adjusting to new ways of doing things. Finland’s foreign minister has said a lot of people are still thinking in terms of the outmoded Nice Treaty.

The hard-won Lisbon text says the new full-time president of the Council, Herman Van Rompuy, will drive the work, and another new chief with enhanced powers will coordinate foreign policy — Catherine Ashton.

Yet there is a transition period in which the old presiding country system will ride tandem.

According to a European diplomatic source, Spain, France and the UK are trying to place member state prerogatives ahead of the new institutions. Madrid and Paris, however, say they will reinforce the new posts and play the game.

French Foreign Minister Pierre Lellouche says when his counterparts were told they weren’t invited to this Thursday and Friday’s leaders’ summit, he saw some of them stiffen.