Europe’s first permanent president is enjoying his last few days of relative obscurity before Monday’s first day in the job. Herman van Rompuy was catapulted into the spotlight after winning the position late last year. Ever modest, he puts work ahead of popularity:
“Many experts predict that Europe’s economic growth will only be 1%, some even say 0.6%,” he said. “But at that level we will not be able to maintain our welfare state systems. So we need to stimulate growth. All countries have the same problem, so this is absolutely the top priority for the coming months. A new strategy for Europe is needed to finance the welfare state.”
The former American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is renowned for saying: “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” He didn’t actually say that but, from Monday, his successor Hillary Clinton or President Obama himself will know who is on the other end if they make that trans-Atlantic call.