EU Summit to Choose President; Van Rompuy Is Favorite…(Update2)
By Johan Carlstrom and Jonathan Stearns
Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) --
The European Union will hold a summit on Nov. 19 to choose its first president and foreign minister, with Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy and ex- Italian leader Massimo D’Alema tipped as possible candidates.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said he had called the meeting of the bloc’s 27 leaders in Brussels to fill the posts. He declined to name any possible candidates.
“There are many names for both the positions,” Reinfeldt told reporters today at a Brussels press conference.
Passage last week of the EU’s governing treaty shifted debate over who would fill the posts into high gear, with Van Rompuy emerging as a compromise candidate for president after former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chances faded, partly due to his support for George W. Bush’s Iraq war in 2003.
Reinfeldt said he completed a first round of talks with EU leaders today and is seeking to reduce the field of candidates.
“My intention is to put forward one candidate per job,” Reinfeldt said. “When you actually speak to all 26 colleagues you get more names than we have jobs to offer. And that shows that we will need more consultations.”
He said the EU president will come from a “narrow” category of current or former prime ministers.
“Van Rompuy is the only person now seen with any credibility as EU president,” Shada Islam, an analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre, said in a phone interview. “D’Alema is the foreign ministry frontrunner.”
EU’s Global Profile
Van Rompuy, 62, is joined by Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, 53, and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, 54, who are also contenders in the behind-the-scenes campaign for the EU presidency, intended to heighten the bloc’s global profile.
The EU president, with a 2 1/2 year-term renewable once, is also supposed to “drive forward” the work of EU summits and “facilitate cohesion and consensus,” according to the bloc’s new treaty.
D’Alema, 60, who has served as Italy’s prime and foreign minister, emerged as a lead contender to become chief EU diplomat after Prime Minister Gordon Brown said yesterday that U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband, 44, who had been seen as a frontrunner, “was never a candidate for the job.”
Another possible candidate is Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, 60.
Paddy Power Plc, Ireland’s biggest bookmaker, made Van Rompuy the 1-2 favorite for the presidency, ahead of Blair at 11-2 and Balkenende and Juncker, each at 7-1. A week ago, Balkenende was the 9-4 favorite. D’Alema is frontrunner at 7-4 to become foreign-policy chief, ahead of Miliband at 5-1 and Bildt at 6-1.
Analysts say the future EU president will face an immediate challenge in establishing clout.
“The EU president’s role hasn’t really been defined clearly,” said Islam. “So leaders can choose between a high and low profile person. But if the EU is to polish its global profile after years of institutional stagnation it’ll need a very articulate and active foreign minister.”
Related Articles »
EU to Appoint President Within Days
By JOHN W. MILLER
BRUSSELS -- European Union leaders are days away from picking their first president and foreign minister, and their decision should be finalized before a summit scheduled here on Nov. 19, EU officials say... The EU's new framing document, the Lisbon Treaty, takes effect Dec. 1. National leaders would like to have a name by then.
EU President Takes Tough Line on Filling Top Jobs
New York Times
... most decisions on top EU jobs were made under rules that allowed any nation to block an appointment, but that right disappears under the Lisbon Treaty. ...
Send for your copy or download:
Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled
The Beast of Revelation: Myth,