A short but very succinct description of the Lisbon Treaty and what it really means for the common people.
And the background of the new EU foreign minister (the High Representative for Foreign Affairs). Here main qualification seems to have been here lack of diplomatic experience. And that she is a Labor Baroness (she worked with business to abolish inequality), and has never held an elected office before. As the Gerald Warner so aptly point out: “this serial appointee is custom-made for high EU office”.
As Peter Ludlow, the European Strategy Forum, a Brussels think-tank put it: ”She would be a first rate disaster”.
Or as a French official said: ”She has little experience and is a bizarre choice”.
But they always complain don’t they.
And as Andrew Duff, a Liberal Democrat MEP, described her ”reassuringly dull.”
European people – You have been forewarned.
Se my post about EEAS:
Se also my other post on the Lisbon Treaty:
“A President of Europe? When did we ask for that?
One thing is clear about the new EU president, who will be named at a private dinner in Brussels: whoever it is, you won’t have had any say, says Daniel Hannan.
By Daniel Hannan
Published: 5:53PM GMT 19 Nov 2009
Who will it be? Who will emerge as the President of Europe, le plus grand de tous les fromages, the man who gets to snap his fingers and drawl ”Yo, Obama”?
One thing is clear: whoever it is, you won’t have had any say. Barack Obama got to be president of 300 million Americans after an exhaustive, and exhausting, series of primaries and ballots lasting over a year. By the end of that campaign, Americans knew exactly what they were getting. The man who will be president of 500 million Europeans, by contrast, will be selected at a private dinner in Brussels tonight.
In true EU style, the dinner will involve a lot of horse trading. Other jobs are in the frame, notably that of EU foreign minister. Balances must be struck: if one position goes to a large country, another will go to a small country. If Western Europe gets one prize, Eastern Europe will want another. If a Christian Democrat wins one plum, a Socialist can expect another.
And they are plums: quite apart from a largely tax-free salary of nearly quarter of a million pounds, you get 20 staff, a housing allowance, an entertainment allowance, a driver and a lifelong pension. No wonder that old freebiemeister Tony Blair was so interested – even if he is now out of the race.
In a sense, though, who gets the job matters less than the fact of its existence. When did you vote to create a President of Europe? When did you vote to give the EU a foreign minister, overseas embassies, a diplomatic corps? When did you vote to set up a pan-European system of criminal justice, complete with a European Public Prosecutor? All these things proposals are in the Lisbon Treaty, which comes into effect a week on Tuesday. Yet, despite the fact that all three British parties promised us a referendum on the treaty, we never got one.
How appropriate: an undemocratic appointment to an undemocratic post created by an undemocratic treaty.”
Herman Van Rompuy and Baroness Ashton land top EU jobs
” The little-known Belgian federalist and the Labour peer who has never held elected office were selected at a meeting in Brussels.
EU leaders chose the Belgian prime minister as the first President of the European Council. Britain’s European Trade Commissioner was made the High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
The surprise combination emerged after Gordon Brown ended Tony Blair’s hopes of becoming president, abandoning his support for his successor and proposing Baroness Ashton for the foreign job instead.
The Prime Minister’s switch surprised European leaders, not least because of Baroness Ashton’s lack of diplomatic experience.
A former health authority chairwoman made a peer in 1999, she held a string of low-key ministerial posts until last year when she was sent to Brussels as an interim replacement for Lord Mandelson on his return to the Cabinet.
Mr Van Rompuy is a poetry-writing economist almost entirely unknown outside Belgium until he emerged as EU leaders’ choice for a president who could not possibly overshadow national leaders.
A staunch advocate of European integration, he has backed policies including a European-wide tax on all financial transactions to fund EU work.
The choice of two low-key candidates for the new posts reflected European leaders’ reluctance to transfer too much power to Brussels-based officials. Originally, the two jobs created by the Lisbon Treaty were intended to give the EU strong and unified voice in global affairs.
But Baroness Ashton’s lack of experience on the diplomatic stage was criticised last night. ”She would be a first rate disaster,” said Peter Ludlow, of the European Strategy Forum, a Brussels think-tank.
Andrew Duff, a Liberal Democrat MEP, described the peer as ”reassuringly dull.”
French diplomatic sources questioned Britain’s seriousness over proposing Baroness Ashton for Europe’s most senior foreign affairs post.
”We think it is a British trick to point at Ashton while really preparing the ground for someone or something else,” said a French official. ”She has little experience and is a bizarre choice. It would be a sign that European diplomacy is downgraded to an economic policy post.”
British sources defended the nomination of Baroness Ashton, a Labour peer who has no formal diplomatic experience and has never won elected office. ”She is regarded by other European leaders as a very strong candidate,” said Mr Brown’s spokesman.
Another UK source said that by proposing her for the job, Mr Brown was ensuring the high representative could not be considered Europe’s foreign minister. The source said: ”This means the job is not a foreign minister job, it’s a job of co-ordinating policies among 27 members.”
Mr Brown had publicly campaigned for Mr Blair to take the presidency, but switched positions after European socialist leaders made clear they would not support the former premier.
”As it became clear that the chances of a Blair presidency were declining, the Prime Minister made a decisive intervention and nominated Baroness Ashton,” Downing Street said.
But the demise of Mr Blair’s candidacy threatened to unleash some of the bitterness that marked his relationship with Mr Brown when the two men were in Government together.
Many diplomats in Brussels think that Mr Brown had not done everything he could to advance Mr Blair’s cause, considering the Prime Minister’s backing for his predecessor as half-hearted at best.
Anthony Seldon, Mr Blair’s biographer, said Mr Blair was ”disappointed” by what he saw as a lack of support for his candidacy in Britain.
The former Prime Minister has been left deeply ”disappointed that many of his friends in Europe, and a number of fellow countrymen, didn’t do more for his cause,” according to Dr Seldon.
A source close to Mr Brown insisted that he did everything he could for his predecessor. ”There is no question of being half-hearted,” the source said.
But one British Government source expressed irritation that Mr Blair persistently refused to declare himself a candidate for the post, apparently insisting that he would not seek the job but would accept it if it was offered to him.
The source said: ”If Tony had bothered to campaign, he might have had it, but he wouldn’t lower himself so we had to do it all for him.”
The end of Mr Blair’s presidential bid was major boost for Mr Van Rompuy. Before the dinner, his other main rival for the presidency, Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister, pulled out of the race and publicly declared ”I’m not a candidate”. The decision was made last night over a dinner of wild mushrooms, spiced sea bass and chocolate fondant.”
Baroness Ashton ticks all the right EU boxes
Just because you have never heard of her, that does not mean that Baroness Ashton, the new EU foreign minister, is negligible, says Gerald Warner.
Published: 9:44AM GMT 20 Nov 2009
Bang go the reputations of Metternich and Talleyrand. European diplomacy has a dynamic new exponent and it is none other than Baroness Ashton of Upholland (not, apparently, a derogatory remark made about the Netherlands No voters in their Lisbon Treaty referendum), the newly anointed High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union.
And, wow, does this lady tick all the boxes. Just because you have never heard of her, that does not mean she is negligible. Hers is a CV to die for. Her first political office was as vice-chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; now she is in charge of European security policy. As Director of Business in the Community she worked with business to abolish inequality (that is why she is a baroness, unlike less equal people). From there she rose to global realpolitik, chairing Hertfordshire Health Authority, not to mention the board of governors of her children’s school.
After that, her career went stratospheric as she became successively Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families (an iconic post, that), Leader of the House of Lords (thus successfully abolishing at least her own inequality) and UK European Commissioner in succession to the Grand Duke Mandy. She was also voted Politician of the Year by Stonewall, thus reinforcing her PC credentials. Now comes the final apotheosis, as successor to Richelieu, Bonaparte and Bismarck in shaping the destinies of Europe.
What’s not to like? From a Eurofederalist, right-on, PC, anti-Little Englander point of view? But the more discerning observers will already have noted the Baroness’s supreme qualification for Europower and endorsement by the elite: she is totally untainted by any experience of democratic election at any stage in her career – unless you are small-minded enough to count her coronation by EU leaders as a momentary brush with a miniscule ballot box. Horses for courses: this serial appointee is custom-made for high EU office.