Wednesday 15 July 2009

[Updated] There will be no President of the European Union - not even with Tony Blair!

Sorry, Le Monde, but even if you write it in the title and again in the first paragraph:

Tony Blair has not been proposed for the post of President of the European Union but for the post of the President of the European Council, which under the Lisbon Treaty still is the gathering of the heads of states and governments meeting four times a year. [See update.]

So even if Tony Blair will be elected into this position, he will just be the president of one of the organs of the European Union, not the President of the Union itself!

PS: Thank you, old-school media, for trying to be correct when talking about the European Union - the effort is not that big...!

Update: In fact, if Charlemagne is right, the news that Blair has been nominated as candidate for the European Council presidency is a canard...


Macarena Rodriguez said...

They don't care. Don't waste your time...

Ralf Grahn said...


Technically you are correct: The Lisbon Treaty brings in a President of the European Council.

But long before the Treaty of Lisbon, how often are we reminded of the distinction that a member state holds the Presidency of the Council, not the European Union?

In reality, the European Council and the Council of the European Union form the decisive tandem in a union of heads of state or government plus their governments.

Even if the citizens of the European Union are relegated to the role of spectators, it is a good thing when candidates for the top posts are launched publicly.

Now it is time to propose other candidates and to discuss the merits of their countries and as individuals.

Julien Frisch said...


it is important, because it creates an image of a function that the president of the European Council doesn't have. It leaves room for eurosceptics to criticise that we get an EU president who is not elected and it drives away from other important functions in the EU, which altogether leads to a misunderstanding of the Union as such.

It also makes forgotten that the rotating presidency in the EU Council will not disappear, that there will thus still be another "president" for the member states who might me as important or even more important in matters of daily interaction between the political and working levels of the member states.

Ralf Grahn said...


Naturally the distinctions are important, although the so called Euroskeptics are right in asserting that the top offices (European Council President and High Representative) lack democratic legitimacy.

The only way to counter the anti-Europeans effectively is by moving from a pre-democratic EU to a democratic union, but our esteemed leaders have not yet entered the 21st century.

You are right in pointing out the more gross mistake (often repeated) that the Lisbon Treaty would end the rotating Council presidencies. Only the European Council and the Foreign Affairs Council will have more permanent chairs; the rest of the Council configurations will be chaired by six month presidencies assorted in trios.

Savio Michellod said...

Vous jouez sur les mots, ce n'est pas mieux. Si vous lisez l'art. 15 TUE, vous verrez que le Président du Conseil européen a des attributions qui le rendent comparable à un Chef d'Etat.

"Le président du Conseil européen assure, à son niveau et en sa qualité, la représentation extérieure
de l'Union pour les matières relevant de la politique étrangère et de sécurité commune, sans
préjudice des attributions du haut représentant de l'Union pour les affaires étrangères et la politique
de sécurité."

De plus, ce Président n'est pas élu par le peuple.

La présidence tournante du conseil aura effectivement toujours lieu, au niveau ministériel, mais le Chef d'Etat du pays l'exerçant n'aura plus de réelle compétence au niveau du Conseil européen.

Donc :
non, le Monde ne se trompe pas en parlant de Président de l'UE (il disposera de compétences identiques à celle d'un Chef d'Etat en représentant l'UE à l'étranger) et
oui, la Présidence tournante telle qu'on la connait aujourd'hui disparaîtra (puisqu'elle n'existera plus qu'au niveau ministériel) et
oui, ce poste de Président est criticable puisqu'il manque de légitimité démocratique (au moins, jusqu'à aujourd'hui, il s'agissait d'un Chef d'Etat élu démocratiquement dans son pays).

Julien said...

Dear Savio,

but exactly regarding the external representation of the Union when it comes to Foreign and Security Policy, it is absolutlely not clear whether the president of the European Council or the High Representative will play the major role.

Since the latter will have its own foreign service and will also preside over the Foreign Affairs Council while at the same time being the vice-president of the Commission, s/he will have a lot of the powers that you attribute to the European Council president - but s/he won't be called "president" because of that.

In the end, all I am saying is that I would like that the media are as correct with functions of EU officials as they are with national officials, where they would be immediately criticised if they were using the wrong titles.