Thursday, November 19, 2009


First of all, allow me to congratulate myself. On this blog and on EUReferendum I said repeatedly, as did the Boss, that Tony Blair was not going to be the President of the European Council and David Miliband was not going to be the Foreign Minister in charge of a non-existent common foreign policy. And so it came to pass. Both stories existed merely in the feverish imagination of the British media and its devoted readers/viewers/listeners, a group that seems to include rather a large number of soi-disant eurosceptics.

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."

"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."
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?

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 nonentities European leaders, pointing out that the new Foreign Affairs Chief Panjandrum, Baroness Ashton, has absolutely no diplomatic or foreign affairs experience.

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.


  1. Obama "not going to encourage further integration"? What gave the Tories that idea?

    Here's Obama, July 2008, Berlin: " In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad."

  2. Confused: agreed ... no idea where those Tories have found the "Obama eurosceptic" mantra from.

    Helen, I agree with the thrust of your arguments. It is a bit of an exageration to say that Van Rumpy hasn't been elected to anything. He has been elected MP ... multiple times. He was the Speaker of the Parliament ... and his Party won the last election. In Belgium, where no Party ever gets more than 15% of the vote, no one is "elected" Prime Minister. The King gives the nod to whoever he thinks can hold a government together.

    Interesting article:

  3. sorry, should have signed the above post.


  4. You are right, Nick. That was a little sloppy. After all, I get cross when people say that we did not elect Brown to be Prime Minister. We elected his party three times and, according to the rules, whoever is leader of the winning party is the PM. However, Van Rumpy's appointment, as I recall, was not as straightforward. He was picked by the King in desperation because nobody else could form a government. He did not exactly get the right number of votes.

  5. What is all this nonsense about having elected people to represent us. The browsing masses almost invariably chose rubbish representatives. If you doubt me just look at the 650 slobs now sitting on their fat bottoms in the HoC. I would rather 650 picked at random and given those jobs than the self elected twerps now sucking the life blood of the nation.

  6. To me the sad thing is how much did our glamorous ex PM give to europe so he could be king? how did he ease the hand over of power and keep it away from the public?
    Hell I really hate socialists, or as they are called here in north america, liberals.