First semi-permanent president should come from small country

Elena Ostapenko, Trend News Agency, 31.10.2009

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First semi-permanent President of the European Council should come from one of the smaller EU members to achieve success in initiative on creation of this post, said , Janis Emmanouilidis expert on politics and reforms of the EC.

"First semi-permanent President of the European Council should come from one of the smaller EU members," Senior Analyst of the European Policy Centre (EPC) Emmanouilidis wrote Trend News in an e-mail.

Posts of President and Foreign Minister of the EU are created in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty designed to reform the EU institutions and streamline the EU's decision-making process. Moreover, the treaty stipulates that EU decisions will not be taken by consensus, that is, the consent of all members without exception, but by the qualified majority.

The president will be elected for two and a half years and may be reelected only once. His/her duties are followings: to preside over the EU summit and represent the EU on the international arena. He/she also will supervise the work of the EU Council of Ministers and contribute to achieving consensus in the decisions.

Speaking about the reasons for which the first president should come from one of the small EU countries, Emmanouilidis identified several.

First, originally many of the smaller member states had been very critical concerning the establishment of a semi-permanent President of the European Council. They feared and still fear that the President would mainly advocate the interests of big EU members, the analyst said.

Second, according to Emmanouilidis, the smaller member states also feared that the establishment of the post of a semi-permanent President of the European Council would weaken the EU's supranational institutions, especially the European Commission and its President.

Third, the semi-permanent President of the European Council should mainly concentrate on promoting consensus within the European Council, the expert believes. He should play a less important role in the realm of EU foreign and security policy, where the double-hatted High Representative / Vice-President of the Commission should play the leading role.

"The way of the completion of the Lisbon Treaty ratification process is open," Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of Sweden which holds the EU presidency told journalists after consent of the last country that refused to ratify the Treaty - the Czech Republic - was achieved.

On Oct. 29, being at a two-day summit in Brussels, the EU leaders agreed with the Czech president's demands  with which he conditioned the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus was concerned that the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty in the Czech Republic without reservations will fill the country's courts with claims relating to the property rights of three million Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Regarding this, Klaus demanded a guarantee that the Treaty will not lead to the abolition of the Benes decrees - a series of  law enacted by the Czechoslovak government led by President Edward Benes in 1946, which resulted in the deprivation of property of the German population of Czechoslovakia and the expulsion of Germans from the country.

Although there are no more obstacles on the way of ratification of the Treaty, Emmanouilidis believes it is too early to speculate about concrete names.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is actively lobbying for his candidacy for the presidency of the EU despite the notorious personal hostility to his predecessor Tony Blair, the Guardian newspaper wrote.

However, Emmanouilidis rules out possibility of his election, as Tony Blair faces strong opposition both from smaller and more community-oriented EU member states.

"In addition, the European socialists have decided that they want someone from their political group to become the next High Representative / Vice-President of the Commission. This means that they would not support the candidacy of Tony Blair."

The procedure of electing a future EU presidential candidate is such that he must gain support of a center-right majority and the socialist minority of Brussels summit.

The Lisbon Treaty was drawn up to replace the draft European constitution, which was first rejected on May 29, 2005 by French voters and then on June 1, 2005 by Dutch voters, casting doubt on the future of the EU as an effective regional organization..

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