There are lots of names in the hat but only one will be drawn out for each of the EU’s new top jobs. A special European Union summit has been called for next week to choose a new president and foreign policy chief. One EU diplomat said: “Hopefully we’ll avoid major disputes.”
It is the Swedish EU presidency’s role to pull a deal out of the conflicting visions and power struggles among the member states, large and small.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said: “When you actually speak to all your 26 colleagues, you get more names than we have jobs to offer, and that shows that we will need more consultations to get to where we should be next Thursday.”
Consensus-building skill strongly favours Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy for the new president job being created under the EU’s Lisbon reform Treaty. Britain’s patchy EU record and Iraq involvement weaken former premier Tony Blair’s chances, and France thinks less than others of Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker’s economic credentials.
Some of it is a question of method over style This analyst describes what an enlarged Europe needs.
Jean-Michel De Waele, of the Université Libre de Bruxelles said:
“We think that these days we need someone pragmatic rather than charismatic. Europe is not in a big project-building phase waiting to leap forward. The institutions have to be put in working order. Compromises have to be found, and so I think it’s better to find a practical technocrat who is pro-European integration instead of someone with grand designs for the future, while the machine is all seized up, that’s plain.”
For the new EU foreign policy chief also being created, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband enjoys broad support but says he is not available. Italy’s Massimo d’Alema has strong European socialist support but eastern EU states hold his communist past against him. Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bilt and Finland’s EU Commissioner have also been considered. Among the women whom some say ought to fill one of the top jobs is former Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.