That was one reason why I did not sign any petitions or joined any campaigns to prevent Tony Blair from becoming European Council President. The other reason seemed obvious to me but not to a number of people who did sign those petitions and did join those campaigns: it does not matter who becomes the Prez, we do not want anybody.
On the other hand, I do not find myself particularly outraged today. I do not wonder in public whether we asked for a European President because I know we did not and I have known for some time this was going to happen. (As did Daniel Hannan, to be fair, so I do not understand why he is saying these things now.) Bu then, as the Boss has pointed out over on EURef, the media suddenly discovered that there was more to the subject than will-Blair-get-it-or-not just about yesterday.
Nor am I too impressed by he sort of wailing and gnashing of teeth that is coming out of Open Europe, the leading perestroika europhile organization in this country. Their press release quotes Lorraine Mullaly, the Director:
"This whole process has been a stitch-up and a perfect illustration of just how out of touch and anti-democratic the EU now is. 27 EU leaders met behind closed doors over a cosy dinner in Brussels to thrash out who will represent Europe's 500 million citizens on the world stage, without so much as a wink to voters as to what on earth was going on."Who is this Europe who can do better than that? And do they mean if someone else had been appointed, say William Hague, then it would have been all right to have an EU Foreign Minister?
"After years of insisting that the Lisbon Treaty would bring the EU closer to citizens, how sad and ironic that the very first big decision was made after a secretive backroom deal which should have no place in a 21st century democracy. This has been EU politics at its very worst."
"Neither Herman Van Rompuy nor Catherine Ashton has any democratic mandate to speak on behalf of Europe's citizens. Most people were denied a say on the Lisbon Treaty which created these posts, and now the jobs themselves have been filled without the slightest input from voters, nor even national parliaments."
"Neither candidate has explained to the public why they should get these jobs. And most people in Europe have never even heard of Herman Van Rompuy or Catherine Ashton, yet here they are to represent us in the global arena. Surely Europe can do better than this?"
"As for the politicians themselves, Herman Van Rompuy is a classic EU federalist who can be relied upon to quietly move EU integration forward. Likewise, Catherine Ashton was instrumental in pushing the Lisbon Treaty through the UK Parliament, which gives a strong indication of the direction she wants to take the EU."
Actually, I strongly suspect that to be the case - a couple of different personalities or just people who had personality and Open Europe et al would have lined up pleading for that endlesly elusive Holy Grail, the reform of the European Union. That is why I was so afraid that Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the former President of Latvia and known as that country's Iron Lady might get it. People might have liked and admired her (there is much to like and admire about her) and that would never have done. So, the very good news is that it was the completely unlikeable and unadmirable Herman Van Rompuy who got the job. After all who could be more suitable than the unelected Prime Minister of a country that is falling apart and can be seen as the microcosm of the EU?
I am delighted to say that President Obama has already congratulated the previously appointed Belgian Prime Minister (he did not win any elections to get the job) on being appointed to the European Council Presidency. Can we hear from those Conservative eurosceptics who supported Obama because he was not going to encourage further European integration?
"The United States has no stronger partner than Europe in advancing security and prosperity around the world. These two new positions, and related changes to take effect on December 1 as a result of the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, will strengthen the EU and enable it to be an even stronger partner to the United States," said a White House statement.The Guardian gives a summary of President Van Rompuy's career, replete with accusations of europhobia against those who are unimpressed by him but carefully not mentioning that he has not been elected to any political position. The Telegraph is a little more detailed in giving the careers of both
That, as the Boss has pointed out on EURef, is exactly what was aimed at by the Commission. In the ongoing battle for power between the Council and the Commission, the latter has scored a notable victory. Nay, two victories.