Tuesday, 27 October 2009

How many Presidents do we need?

Tony Blair is being touted as the first permanent President of the European Council following adoption of the Lisbon Treaty (assuming the Czech's ratify the treaty) This is being opposed by the Tories who are lobbying hard with the smaller European nations to reject Blair. Should we really be wasting political capital over what Nosemonkey's EUtopia describes as basically a job that carries no power or influence,
"Whoever lands the job (and it’s highly unlikely to be Tony Blair) will have practically zero influence on anything, acting instead as little more than a moderator between the governments of the member states as they continue to run the EU show. And will be in office for just two and a half years – which is no time at all in EU terms (hell, it’s just taken more than a decade to get agreement on a treaty which doesn’t solve half the problems it was meant to…)"

We already have two Presidents, President of the Council of the European Union which is the job that gets rotated every 6 months between European leaders; and the really influential job, President of the European Commission who is Jose Manuel Barroso.
It begs the question why we need a third President? It just seems to me that with every treaty we just seem to create an additional layer of bureaucracy.


Pelagius said...

Good for raising this but let's check the facts. For starters, this is not "bureaucracy" but a definite political role. BBC Wales today said the job is "President of the EU". Professional journalists, eh?

The EU, in fact, has three presidents: the Council of Ministers (which meets in secret), the Parliament and the Commission. No big deal.

I think you are wrong about the present rotating, 6-month presidency of the Council. Won't the new 30 month (renewable once) post - not "permanent" as BBC Wales said today - replace that?

Article 15.6 of the Treaty of Lisbon says: "The President of the European Council: (a) shall chair it and drive forward its work; (b) shall ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the [ ] Council in cooperation with the President of the Commission [ ]; (c) shall endeavour to facilitate cohesion and consensus within the [ ] Council; (d) shall present a report to the European Parliament after each of the meetings of the [ ] Council.

"The President of the [ ] Council shall, [ ], ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy, without prejudice to the powers of the High Representative [ ] for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The post is not subject to EP approval, like the Commission. But that is solely the fault of, guess who, the Council of Ministers.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

...but are you saying that the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty won't create an additional bureaucracy? The new President will have support and they don't come cheap!

alanindyfed said...

is it not time that the general public was educated in the structure and workings of the European Union, and which legislative acts impinge on the lives of ordinary citizens? It seems that the public know little about the functions of their own parliament and less about the EU parliament and its methods of decision-making.

Anonymous said...

...its not just the public is it?
If we knew what they really, really did (or didn't do), we'd probably be a damned sight more eurosceptic!

Pelagius said...

Plaid Gwersyllt, the new 30-month President of the European Council will probably get a small private office (staffed with fonctionnaires on secondment from the Council and from Member States) and that for the rest he / she will have to work with the existing General Secretariat of the Council. These currently service the 6-month presidencies.

There will probably be a reshuffle of Council staff who currently work for the High Representative, because he / she will become a member of the Commission. And some staff of the Council working on foreign, security and development policies will probably have to join the new European External Action Service (EEAS).

So it looks more like a reorganisation. And provided we get good Council presidents, it should be more efficient.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Thanks for your contributions, I try to understand the European setup but find it quite complex which is why I follow Nosemonkey's Eutopia who seems to unravel the big issues quite well.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.12, "if we knew what they really did"?

You know what criminal and/or incompetent British politicians, civil servants and private contractors did in causing the Nimrod aircraft to crash.

It is time we abolished them. British nationalism is the killer. Incompetence and criminality are a hallmark of your state. The sooner it disappears from history, the better.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

...and replaced with what?
Don't disagree with you on the Nimrod outrage, another outsourced contract gone horribly wrong!

alanindyfed said...

Replaced with national governments, responsible to their national communities, with small functioning committees and no British government to scheme, control, interfere and manipulate?