Saturday, 21 November 2009

Europe in blogs - Euroblogs (11): Herman van Rompuy & Catherine Ashton

It was the decision of the decade, because it took a decade until this first decision of "The new EU" could be taken - and the euroblogosphere has covered the nomination of Herman van Rompuy for European Council President and of Catherine Ashton as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy extensively.

A collective "WHY?" has been going through the blogs, or "Pourquoi?" as Fabien Cazenave is asking. It's "[d]isheartening" for Gulay Icoz, "the dampest squib" for Monnet Musing, "a terrible joke" for Open Europe. "No fireworks" says Konrad Niklewicz, and "No. Comment" from the Berlaymonster.

"Habemus Papam" announces Sauvon l'Europe after hearing the "grotesque result", and this result looks like "Fish & chips sauce biki" thinks Un Européen jamais content. As grotesque as the fact that Eurosceptics are applauding the outcome of the dinner, as Gavin Hewitt rightfully underlines.

One could summarise many of these reactions with the words by European Union Law: "One thing is clear – both Mr. van Rompuy and Mrs. Ashton do not have substantial foreign policy experience." But one could argue,as Grahnlaw is doing, that those holding the rotating Council presidency never had more experience either.

Still, almost everyone is saying what Nosemonkey says about the two: "Lightweights". For Jean Quatremer finding somebody less non-existing than van Rompuy must have been almost impossible, but the fact that it was possible had been proven by the choice of Baroness Ashton - a team that Europeans weren't dreaming of.

Nevertheless, Lobbyplanet doesn't mind to call them "The Dream Team", but the actual dream team should have been Lamy/Freiberga/Miliband, notes Jon Worth.

Others, like Europaeum know very well that Thursday's dream team was not even van Rompuy/Ashton but in fact Merkel/Sarkozy, and reseuropa couldn't agree more, concluding that with the choice of Ashton the two "will have removed the anglo-saxon domination of European economic policy of recent years".In return, Pietro De Matteis interprets the choice of Trade Commissioner Ashton as a decision representing the true core of the EU: Commercial power.

At A Fistful of Europe, one thinks that with this decision the countries have been working to restrain the EU institutions under the Lisbon Treaty, while Charlemagne knows that this decision is a sign that the EU is nothing but an "inward-looking fortress".

This EU is now post-heroic for the Verfassungblog, yet Honor Mahony discovers the new hero: Barroso. This is why EU Referendum summarises the result of the game with a simple: "Commission 2 – Council 0".

Taking a look back, Titem notices that the list of candidates and the debates going through the euroblogosphere were never really reflected in the traditional media. And still her - Asthon's - name was missing both in the old and in the new media, and so she was "[s]hocked, flustered and almost a little embarrassed" saw Gulf Stream Blues.

Brussels2 saw a Catherine Ashton at the press conference who wasn't prepared, Giacomo Benedetto sees an alumna of the Centre for European Politics at Royal Holloway in one of the highest European offices, and Joe Litobarski sees at least a success of the twibbon campaign "For a Woman at a Top EU Job".

Van Rompuy also gets his share of the attention: Some friendly words from Tony Barber who sounds glad that the first European Council President who will shape the office is "[i]ntelligent, civilised, modest, with a calming sense of humour - a consensus-builder and an organiser" are countered by Paul Belien's comparison with Saruman, the wise wizard in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, who "has built himself a high tower from where he rules over all of us". Ironies Too has a single adjective for Herman: "Ludicrous".

Eva remarks that he is at least not one of those leaders who are searching every little spotlight, and that Ashton could maybe bring the British back to Europe. But Daniel Basteira cannot see van Rompuy filling out the post as "chef d'orchestre".

There is also the Swedish Troika: A "positive result" from still-Commissioner Margot Wallström and "A successful dinner!" by soon-to-be-Commissioner Cecilia Malmström are both washed away by Carl Bildt who is so disappointed that he refrains from any further comments.

Finally, there are also a rather calm analysis by Menaru and a rather negative and taxpayer-oriented analysis by EU for US. And Daniel Antal's call that we need a constitution.

But maybe we should all take it like Gideon Rachman and just think: No matter who would have gotten the jobs, there's anyway no substance and it didn't matter anyway who'd get them. Or do it like Yordanka Stoyanova and just say: "Congratulations!"

But no matter what we do or say, the decision is taken, and we'll have to live with it in one or another way. So, that's it for now, but Europe in blogs - Euroblogs will be back soon, probably with more amazing coverage of the citizen-oriented European Union.

PS.: And for all those of you who cannot get enough of euroblogs speaking about "great" events, I recommend re-reading the Europe in blogs - Euroblogs: Barroso Special published before Barroso's re-election earlier this year.


Julien Frisch said...

Via Grahnlaw I was also made aware of the discussion thread "Europe is Doomed! Special 'Nobodies' Edition" on European Tribune.

LinoTheRhino said...

A mammoth work of compiling all the blogs and a very enjoyable read! Let's try to engage all these eurobloggers to do a round of blogs in 100 days, saying what they think of the Ashton/Van Rompuy/Barroso combination then. Wouldn't that be a fun initiative, and maybe one that contradicts some of our initial gut feelings?

Julien Frisch said...

Thanks, Lino!

And there is another excellent post by Kosmopolit that was written after I published this article.