Blair earsAs ever Tony Blair is a character who manages to anger and inspire in equal measure. For some reason over the last few days, a good fortnight after his appearance at the UMP Congress, there has been more press coverage of whether or not Blair will be a candidate for the new position of President of the European Council from 2009. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I’m really torn on this issue, yet there are plenty of people lining up to oppose the nomination of Blair. European Tribune is so opposed to the nomination of Blair that they have set up a petition opposing him, while Nosemonkey has also laid into Blair.

Firstly, let’s look at this problem the other way around. Who do we actually want to be President of the European Council? I’m OK with Ahern or Juncker, but neither of them are especially inspiring. Is there anyone European Tribune or others could support, rather than just having a whinge about Blair?

Secondly, it’s wrong to look at this nomination issue separately from the other positions up for grabs in 2009 – President of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (aka European Foreign Minister). As the FT correctly argues, there is sure to be some political carve-up between the main European political parties for these nominations. The 3Bs scenario – Blair, Barroso, Bildt – would not be party politically acceptable as Blair is more strongly supported on the right than the left… Plus the European Council President nomination is the only one of the three positions where the European Parliament is not involved, but I would be ready to bet that the EP would threaten something with regard to the Commission or High Rep positions if it felt it was inadequately consulted with regard to nomination of the President of the European Council.

In summary this is a very complex jigsaw to piece together. It’s much more difficult than deciding for or against Blair.

[UPDATE – 11.02.08]
For a bit of proper QMV EU voting geeky analysis of Blair’s chances, have a look at the CEP blog from Royal Holloway University of London. You know you want to!

2 Comments

  1. this question is one of belief. it is not necessary to have clear preferences on who you want for the job – it is only clear that Tony Blair can never be an option. in any constellation of EU-power-triangles this man should never be allowed any influential position in the EU. during his premiereship he has done everything possible to undermine any positive development of the EU, his country’s view of the EU as well as EU-US-dialogue, with his “go it alone in the special partnership” attitude and the “I’ll show the EU” attitude which he used in UK national politics. I would be equally opposed if someone like Berlusconi would be discussed for the job, as there’s a handful of people in Europe who have just been so damaging to the European project, and their own countries, that I would never want them anywhere near it, in any constellation. if you think that at least he’s visionary in contrast to some more “bureaucratic”-looking candidates? look at the UK, all the broken promises, the half-cooked ideas, the lack of depth he has shown us for a decade, and think whether you want equal fluff instead of substance for Europe.

  2. giacomo

    Being here in Italy I was not so exposed to Blair rhetoric so i am not able to judge if he could be really inspiring. I also admit that I know very little about Blair concrete successes (or failures) in the UK home policies, but still there are two things that make me not able to trust him:
    first is his declaration (I read it reported in an Italian newspaper from one of his speeches) that “we have to review our idea of freedom” in order to win 21st century threats to security__when I read it it made my blood freezing in my veins… there is no need to change the idea of freedom, every anti-terrorist measure must be temporary and there is no need to change the idea of freedom!
    The second thing was Blair conversion to Catholic Church. I have many difficulties to believe it to be an honest one. Blair tried to convinced the past Pope (GPII) of approving the Iraq invasion in a talk he privately had with the Pope in Rome. In that talk Blair offered his conversion in exchange of Pope approval to the mission but the Pope refused, or at least this was referred by some Vatican sources to some Italian newspapers. I am an atheist and I had no special feeling toward any Pope or priest, but I do no like the idea of religious conversion merchandising.

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