As 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!