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oratio's avatar

[Politics]Tomorrow the EU might have it's first President. Who will it be?

Asked by oratio (8905points) November 18th, 2009

Tomorrow, on the Thursday 19 November, we might have our first President of the EU and a Foreign Minister, as the European Council meet. The European Council consists of the leaders of the member nations.

There is criticism, as this process lacks any resemblance to democracy, as it will be a politicians compromise; electing one they can cope with. The choice of the highest representatives doesn’t even involve the parliament, the one democratic body of the Union.

■Should it be a heavy weight like Tony Blair or a recognized name like Mary Robinson? There have been voices raised for candidates from a small country rather than a large, for various reasons, as well as a candidate from the newer members.

■Or should the position go to a woman rather than a man? There are plenty of qualified women to consider.

Some of the interesting names for the position as a professional hand shaker:

Vaira Vike-Freiberga f. Latvian president
Mary Robinson f. Irish president
Herman Van Rompuy Belgian prime minister
Jean-Claude Juncker Luxembourg’s prime minister
Jan Peter Balkenende the Dutch prime minister
Paavo Lipponen f. prime minister of Finland


•Who do you think it will be?
•Who would you like it to be?

Link: The Guardian

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

trailsillustrated's avatar

tony blair – thanks for posting this now i know not to trade the euro tomoz

LKidKyle1985's avatar

It’s hard to say since european politics can be so complicated. Many of these people I am not very familiar with. I don’t exactly know what the role of the president of the EU would be, but if they want someone who would be a strong candidate, without much to lose as far as politics goes, and has a lot of credibility as a politician. I think Tony Blair is a smart choice, especially since england has a fair amount of influence in Europe as it is and he has already reached the apex of his political career as prime minister a few years ago.
The others you mention I assume are still in politics and have more to lose. Or are not from countries that are as vital to the EU.
I have no preference for who I would like it to be, but I would like to see the candidate come from a country like England, France, or Germany. I don’t really have any logical reason for this, it just seems to set better than the prime minister of luxembourg taking it.

JLeslie's avatar

Now this is very interesting, so glad you posted this question, I had no idea.

MrItty's avatar

Questions like this make me ashamed to be such an ignorant American :-(

MrItty's avatar

“Or should the position go to a woman rather than a man? There are plenty of qualified women to consider.”

Why is that even a question? Why does it start with the assumption that a male is somehow the obvious choice? It should go to the candidate best qualified for the position. Gender should not be a factor in any way.

“Should it be a heavy weight like Tony Blair or a recognized name like Mary Robinson”

I recognize the name Tony Blair. Former Prime Minister of the UK. I have no idea who Mary Robinson is.

What will the President of the EU be responsible for? What will the duties and priviledges be? What are the qualifications? Is it purely a figurehead position? Does it entail any actual authority?

markyy's avatar

@MrItty Don’t feel bad, most Europeans don’t even have a clue what the European Parliament is doing most of the time, I sure don’t. And if you ask me, the EU is keen on keeping it that way (they didn’t ask us if we want a president).

LC_Beta's avatar

…one ring to rule them all…

RareDenver's avatar

As a citizen of a member country of the EU I’m pretty pissed off that my vote has not been asked for in deciding the President of the EU. From what I’ve heard Tony Blair is a favourite but the EU has a track record of surprising us all. Saying that I’m not even really sure exactly what powers/responsibilities this President will have. All I know is that it will be nothing like the Presidency of the USA…...yet.

How long till we have a United States of Europe?

ragingloli's avatar

I hope it’s not Blair.

whitenoise's avatar

For the sake of clarity: it will not be a president of Europe, but rather a permanent president of the EU council. So far the presidency of this council is rotating across member nations, this means the council will have a more recognizable face.

With reference to the democratic aspect: the true decision power is with the council, not its president. The president not being chosen directly by the people is more or less a guarantee that it stays that way.

The council consists of the ministers of the member states. These ministers all represent democratically chosen governments. In my mind that has a higher democratic content than any one single person could ever bring. (But democracy in the EU is a developping model.)

I would personally not like the UK to deliver the first president of the council, to me the UK never really seemed to actually want to commit to the EU so much. Tony Blair seems a very sympathetic person to me, but he has in my opinion too blindly followed the former US government, particularly in its approach to Iraq. For that same reason, I feel maybe The Netherlands should pass on the first presidency, although The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg were part of the initial group of founding countries.

I would like to see a lady president. Can we borrow Michelle?

oratio's avatar

It will not be a president of Europe, True, technically.

It is not really clear what the responsibilities of the new president will be. It seems that the President will only be as powerful as government leaders of the council will allow.

It is possible that the President will just play a ceremonial role in the EU’s external representation. That person could also be coordinating issues and concerning national governments wishes in EU and between the Commission and them.

The EU has a long tradition of internal competing powers. The President of the EU(the Council) and that of the Commission are two different posts. Most likely the President will be more of a figure head and a coordinator than anything else.

If the President of the Council and the Commission were one and the same, EU politics would have one person to represent their interests, and the role would be clearer.

oratio's avatar

@MrItty I agree. This is a difficult question. But I think that there are never one that is most qualified, and when most of the politicians and leaders are men, they tend to elect men. If the position as a president would only be about who is most qualified, I think we would have seen a woman or a black man as president in the US long ago. What do you think?

Most of the politicians in the EU are men. 51 % of the population are women, 70 % of the EU congress are men, 20 of 27 commissioners in the Commission are men. I think that there is a bias already. I agree, but I feel it doesn’t work very well in practice.

bunnygrl's avatar

As I’ve said elsewhere I think, there is such an anti europe feeling in the UK right now for so many reasons, but its still more popular than Tony Blair ever will be. We are living in an elected dictatorship in the UK and have been for years. It makes me sad and very fearful for this country’s future.

Whoever is elected to the role though will hold the position for two and a half years apparently, and as I’ve said, I’d rather it was almost anyone except Mr Blair, who should go dig a very, very, deep hole, climb into it and stay there, begging forgiveness for Iraq.
hugs xx

Jack79's avatar

Funnily enough I didn’t know about this.

I personally believe that the “United States of Europe” as some people have called it is in fact the only way forward. I like the debate and the criticism, because it has helped us keep a balance, and these voices make us tread more carefully. There are also many things I personally don’t like about the EU, but all in all, I’d much rather be governed by a central body somewhere in Brussels or wherever than my local corrupt politcian. And I like the way the borders are no longer keeping us confined.

As for the person, I don’t see why it should specifically be a man or a woman, as long as it’s someone able to do the job, and I think all of the names you mentioned are respectable people who would be great for that. I generally don’t believe in “heavyweights” but I wouldn’t mind Tony Blair in particular, he seems to be fairly popular around the continent. My own vote would probably go to Mary Robinson though.

JLeslie's avatar

This is really interesting. I compare it to America, previously the states had very much their own identity, we became more powerful once we united our currency and had a stronger central government. Of course, here in the USA, there is a constant battle about where more power should lie, in the state, or in the central government. On the surface it seems different; like you cannot compare countries of Europe to the Individual states of the United States, but I wonder if it is comparable? Texas comes to mind. It was its’ own country before joining the union. Still today many Texans consider themselves Texans before Americans.

It will be interesting to watch the position of President evolve over the next 20 years and Europe in general. Europe seems to be going through a lot of changes.

MrItty's avatar

@oratio Let me quote my original post with some strategic emphasis:

“It should go to the candidate best qualified for the position. Gender should not be a factor in any way.”

I’m saying that in this day and age, it’s absurd to me that we still think Gender is a factor. I’m not talking about the past 231 years of American politics, or the past thousands of years of European politics. I’m talking about the here and now.

mattbrowne's avatar

I hope it’ll be Jean-Claude Juncker.

RareDenver's avatar

@mattbrowne I hope it’ll be Jean-Claude Van Damme

whitenoise's avatar

I think it will be Van Rompuy. Somebody up for a bet? ;-)

ragingloli's avatar

oh noes a belgian! you know what they say about belgians. think of the children!

whitenoise's avatar

Belgium… it’s sometimes referred to as the wide border between France and The Netherlands.
No… I love Belgium. It is a great country with lovely people and a great kitchen.

I don’t think there could be better training grounds for European politics than being prime minister of Belgium. They have more trouble keeping their country together than anyone. Three different languages and especially the Flemish and Walloons always seem to find ways to not understand each other.

oratio's avatar

Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton. You were right @whitenoise. I think Rompuy was a good choice, and Ashton seem like a pleasant surprise. I would have expected an east European for the post of “High Represenatative” as the foreign minister is called.

mattbrowne's avatar

@oratio – Let’s see how they do. I guess many country leaders feared too much competition.

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