Herman van Rompuy has been appointed as the first President of the European Council – a new post created with the Treaty of Lisbon. In his first public appearance, he has outlined some of his priorities on the post:
- Continuity, especially for multiannual dossiers such as the financial perspectives and the Lisbon Strategy;
- Economic and social agenda;
- Environmental and energy challenges;
- Greater security and justice for the European citizens.
Interestingly, Mr. van Rompuy believes that “every country should emerge victorious from negotiations”. He also thinks that institutional debate in the EU “is closed for a long period”.
The post of High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy goes to Catherine Ashton. Her appointment will have to be approved by the European Parliament. Pierre de Boissieu will be the Secretary-General of the Council.
The reactions to these appointments are diverse. One thing is clear – both Mr. van Rompuy and Mrs. Ashton do not have substantial foreign policy experience.
Quentin Peel says that the choice shows what a powerful role the European parliament has come to play in EU politics. He also says that the immediate reaction in Washington was one of shock and disappointment. This somewhat contradicts the news that the US welcomes EU appointments. Andreas Ross says this is an example of old-school EU compromise. Christopher Bickerton says in an interview to the LA Times that “the whole thing has descended into farce…it’s made the European Union seem more of a joke than a reality.”