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Tony Blair and the race for the presidency

Mark Mardell | 22:17 UK time, Wednesday, 6 February 2008

I’m told Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have discussed the possibility of Mr Blair becoming President.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown
That’s President of the Council, the new top European job created by the Lisbon Treaty.

Some want to find a high profile president to represent the European Union on the world stage at events such as the G8, the Bali summit and for meeting heads of state.

Gordon Brown is willing to give his backing but is waiting for a nod from Mr Blair.

Mr Blair has also recently discussed his job prospects with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Every time the job comes up, so do the same old names. The problem is obvious: few European politicians have the charisma and international recognition to carry off being Mr or Mrs Europe.

Certainly, the other main man in the frame, Luxembourg’s veteran Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, doesn’t really fit the bill.

But Downing Street feels that Mr Blair needs to get a move on if he is to clinch the job, which needs the support, or at least the acquiescence, of the leaders of all 27 European Union countries.

The role of president of the Council would start on 1 January 2009.

French backing

Mr Blair already has the firm backing of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his team says that there is no campaign and no campaign team.
Tony Blair with French President Nicolas Sarkozy

The truth is Mr Blair is interested, but cautious. He only wants the job on his terms if the president is really going to be a strong presence on the world stage.

He wants to be sure that he is the one who shakes the hand of the new president of the United States, and doesn’t have the new high representative or the president of the European Commission jostling to do it themselves.

Downing Street insiders feel Mr Blair needs to make up his mind quite quickly so they can start throwing their weight behind his campaign.

You might question whether Gordon Brown would really welcome Tony Blair as a prince across the water, but the impression I get is that, if Mr Blair wants it, they would have to support him,.

No hurry

Mr Blair feels that while it’s flattering to be considered, there is no hurry: indeed it’s too early in the process to make a decision. He wants to wait and see how the job is fleshed out as meat is put on the bones of the Lisbon Treaty.

The trouble is that nothing of importance will be decided until after the Irish referendum, on a date yet to be announced, for fear of frightening the voters with potentially controversial decisions.

How much urgency is there? Nicolas Sarkozy would like all this settled at the beginning of the French presidency, in July.

Most regard this as unrealistic, and think that the decision will be taken around the time of the October summit.

But Europe’s leaders and their representatives in Brussels are staring hard at the old problem of the chicken and the egg.
chick and egg courtesy of Science Photo Library

Do you choose the person you want for the job, and then write the job specification to fit them or do you decide what you want the role to be, and then look for the best candidate?

The person will of course represent the European Union, and they will of course have to do the work that the presidency of the Council does now: arranging agendas, chasing decisions, knocking heads together.

It is a sliding scale. But too much of the latter and Mr Blair won’t want it.

'Stop Blair' campaign

And there are formidable problems. Some will oppose him because of his enthusiasm for the Iraq war. Indeed there is already a website aimed at stopping him on these grounds.

Some will consider that he represents a country that has opted out of the euro, a common police and justice policy, a common immigration policy and will never be serious about Europe.

The smaller countries think the big countries already have too many people at the top.

Britain has twice wielded the veto over big jobs and some would like to return the compliment. And so on. But perhaps the biggest hurdle is that old Brussels saw “front-runners never win”.

The smart money of some Brussels insiders is now going on Germany’s leader Angela Merkel.
Tony Blair with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

She faces an election next year and could lose. Her party might rather go into elections with a new leader. She is the one figure from a big country that smaller countries perhaps wouldn’t mind.

Brought up in East Germany, she symbolises the reunification of Europe. She may not gush charisma but she is well respected and well known in the wider world.

And I have just heard of one other possible candidate, Barroso himself. There’s just a possibility he might give up being President of the Commission if he thought being President of the Council was the bigger, better job and within his grasp.

So a lot to play for between now and the autumn.

Given that “front-runners never win”, Blair is being canny in keeping his head down as much as possible.

But he also knows that even if the decision isn’t taken until the autumn, nine months is an awfully short time in international politics.

UPDATE:
Several of you ask what I have against Luxembourg's long-serving Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker. Absolutely nothing, but I probably didn't make myself clear enough.

I meant that if the job is intended to be a high profile, high impact actor on the world stage then he's probably not the best candidate.

He's a fixer, negotiator, and knows the work of the Council like the back of his hand. If the job tipped more towards organising the work of the meetings of the nation states rather than representing the EU then he would be an obvious choice, and for many who favour more intergration he is the obvious choice.

I can't agree with any of those of you who say what the job will or will not be. This certainly hasn't been decided yet: the Lisbon treaty is pretty vague stating only that the president will "drive" the work of the Council, "encourage cohesion and consensus" and represent the EU in the area of foreign affairs.

Diplomats are quite explicit: they won't do any of the detail until after the Irish referendum, and possibly not until every country has ratified. They haven't even talked about this in any official meeting. And discussion about what size of staff, and indeed residency, the new president might need amount to little more than corridor gossip.

And yes Bertie could yet be the one to come through the middle.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:33 PM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Juan Manuel Velasco wrote:

Mr Blair would be an excellent President, but forget about set asiding the High Representative and the President of the European Commission when dealing high profiles international affairs. I think that to many british politicians and citicens do still have to be lectured a bit what the foreign policy of the EU is about. If he is clever enough, and he certainly is, he will accept european politics as it is, and then try to improve it from inside. Don´t create unnecessary enemies from the outset and do rally wisely and quitely for probably the best politician in Europe now . And good luck Mr Blair, as the task is formidable, not to mention rethinking the role of the ECB in some respects. Until then do keep the pound and the BoE (sorry Mr Brown)

  • 2.
  • At 11:51 PM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • jan de vriese wrote:

With the U.S. elections getting a new president elected about at the same time as we'll get one over here in the E.U., I think that Mr. Blair shoud rather go for the U.S. post, not as president, but for instance as Vice President.
During his U.K. legacy, he showed clearly being more familiar and willing to serve the U.S. than to serve the E.U. interests.

Remember the difference with Joshka Fisher, telling Donald Rumsfelt that he could go to hell with his war in Irak because " he was not convinced"?
That's the kind of president we need in the E.U.

  • 3.
  • At 11:54 PM on 06 Feb 2008,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

William Hague's comments in the House last month covered this subject to the great amusement of everyone except Gordon Brown.

While Blair was Prime Minister of the UK, there was a perception that he bent over backwards to do Washington's bidding, some would say to the point of putting American interests ahead of British ones. An EU president who is seen to be too acquiescent to a foreign power (even one that is usually on the same side) could be problematic.

We are not just opposing him on the grounds of his actions to bring about the war in Iraq, but also his weak European credentials.

  • 6.
  • At 02:55 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Tony Robinson wrote:

So what do they think is going to happen once they have forced their "EU" constitution/treaties on us all? Do they think people are going to recognise the "EU"? Do they think people will serve in its army or any army on an "EU"-mission. Joerg Haider used the word "Pre-faschist". He compared it to the pre-Dollfuss era in Austria. I always compare it to Star Wars. George Lucas has read a lot of history and captured the essence of dictatorship. I always thought Helmut Kohl was Darth Vader. Now there are hoards of Darth Vaders. The next step is presumably proper fascism because they won't be able to keep their dictatorship together without it. Honest men will be in jail or the mortuary whilst the Indescribables will infest the corridors of power. Get yourselves and your savings out of the "EU" as soon as possible!

  • 7.
  • At 03:36 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Tony Robinson wrote:

I think we always knew he would be president of the “EU” and that most of us believe that to be part of his reward for signing the “EU”-treaties. He did not represent the people of the UK then and he will not represent the people of the “EU” when this malfunctioning monstrosity makes him president.

Something that very few people realise: Any Catholic can become Pope. Theoretically it does not have to be a cardinal. This at least is what German Catholic priests have told me several times. So: President of the “EU” and then Pope? Or both at the same time? What if Arny gets the law changed so that any American can become President and they give Blair honorary citizenship?

  • 8.
  • At 05:58 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Shirley Jackson wrote:

Is this a suggestion for a reality TV show? My European friends, we excel at the Eurovision Song Contest. Why not a television contest to pick our president, Mister or Madame Europe? Every country in the union would have a chance to win it. I am a Pole. I would vote "Tak", "Ja", "Yes", "Oui", "Da", "Si" for Dr. Angela Merkel if Germany nominated her.

  • 9.
  • At 06:49 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Clifford wrote:

The BBC News front page link to this blog has some rubbish about Blair 'taking the baton'. From whom? It's not a relay race is it?

  • 10.
  • At 06:54 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Paul Chandler wrote:

please no ! - obviously the money trough that the Blairs had access too when PM was not enough - they want their snouts in the european trough as well.

  • 11.
  • At 07:39 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Tim wrote:

So Mr Blair was happy to help push through the Lisbon Treaty and not to give us a referendum, and now he's thinking of going for the job as "President" of Europe.

Coincidence?

  • 12.
  • At 07:45 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Michael Farquharson wrote:

Blair "president" of Europe? What an absolutely nauseating idea. And can one really imagine Mrs Blair as "first lady". Actually, if you do the EU thing, Frau Merkel would probably make a pretty good fist of it. But Blair?, please be serious.

  • 13.
  • At 08:12 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • tonyd wrote:

It's been obvious for many years now that Tony Blair's only ambition for life after number ten has been to be the first President of Europe. Hence the mad dash to ingratiate himself into the community by signing away many cherished British traditions.

However, the Presidency will only be on Tony B's own terms - an equal in every way to the President of The United States, conveniently forgetting that position is a democratically elected one rather than a fix-up among the EEC leaders.

I should add that Tony B did bring a few good things to the position of Prime Minister so it's not all negative against the man.

I disagree with Mr. Mardell that the President of the European Council shall be "Mr or Mrs Europe". That would give too much importance to the already too powerful Council against the other two EU institutions. The Council is like an upper house (though more like the German Federal Council [Bundesrat] rather than the aristocratic Lords), and the EU just wanted to move into a more democratic direction by increasing the Parliament's powers and the Commission's accountability.

I also think that for the Council Presidency, only the former leader of a smaller EU member can be in question. That bars Merkel or Prodi even if they have the negotiating skills. But I may welcome former heads of major EU countries (if qualified, unlike Blair, or Aznar or Berlusconi) as European Commission Presidents.

I am also wondering about your description of Juncker. He may be little-known in a Britain where discourse on Europe is dominated by Eurosceptic private media, but he is certainly well recognised elsewhere as skillful negotiator, a main mover behind the formation of the European Union and the adoption of the Euro, he reassures us in the smaller EU members, and he is a good pro-European speaker (and I say all this as someone not too close to him on the left-right spectrum).

  • 15.
  • At 08:53 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • nads wrote:

"Certainly, the other main man in the frame, Luxembourg’s veteran Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, doesn’t really fit the bill."

Could you expand on this - the local press seems to think it's a done job (and since I don't like the guy particularly, I'd like to hear the other side's arguments in full).

  • 16.
  • At 09:09 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Jon Slack wrote:

To be honest, I really can't see Merkel getting the job. Given her relationship with Sarkozy, you can pretty much guarantee a French veto on that, which I guess is why Sarkozy is so keen to have Blair as President.

  • 17.
  • At 09:34 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

Now we know why McStalin, sorry I mean Brown, signed the Lisbon Treaty.

  • 18.
  • At 09:44 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Mr Huber wrote:

Given the highly idiosyncratic and at times bizarre public debate about the EU in the UK, I am not sure whether it would be appropriate for a British politician to be the first EU president. But choosing Blair certainly would be a major blunder. After all, the job is largely about EU foreign policy which is the one policy area where Blair's record is abysmal. His foreign policy was rejected by large majorities of the population in virtually all Member States; he should not be given a second opportunity to pursue a second round of disastrous poodle politics. (Blair seems so desperate to make foreign policy history that his ambition seems to have seriously diminished his apparently otherwise formidable capacities of political judgment. In this sense he seems mentally too immature for the job).

  • 19.
  • At 09:50 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Steven wrote:

I heard you discuss this on Today this morning - it's certainly an interesting prospect, and a barometer as to what direction Europe is going in. But can I make one (admittedly pedantic) plea? Please stop referring to Nicolas sArkozy as SarkOzy!! There's no reason for continually mispronouncing his name!

  • 20.
  • At 09:56 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Cynosarges wrote:

With the probable election of Berlusconi in Italy, and the probable support of three or four Eastern European countries, this doesn't appear as improbable as the nay-sayers claim

  • 21.
  • At 09:57 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Malcolm wrote:

There is a vocal minority (within Britain and Europe) who hate Blair and everything he stands for, blame him for being (either or both) a war-monger and a poodle of the US, a liar, a failure and a corrupt cheat. To them, it is unthinkable that Blair could become President of Europe. Therefore, they presume, it won't happen.
The reality may be very different. Blair actually has enormous international standing (with the people that matter). With Brown and Sarkozy behind him, Blair could do it. I hope he does - if only to prove his whingeing critics at home wrong.

  • 22.
  • At 09:57 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Mr Huber wrote:

Given the highly idiosyncratic and at times bizarre public debate about the EU in the UK, I am not sure whether it would be appropriate for a British politician to be the first EU president. But choosing Blair certainly would be a major blunder. After all, the job is largely about EU foreign policy which is the one policy area where Blair's record is abysmal. His foreign policy was rejected by large majorities of the population in virtually all Member States; he should not be given a second opportunity to pursue a second round of disastrous poodle politics. (Blair seems so desperate to make foreign policy history that his ambition seems to have seriously diminished his apparently otherwise formidable capacities of political judgment. In this sense he seems mentally too immature for the job).

  • 23.
  • At 09:57 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Paul S wrote:

For a group of governments who are constantly touting the merits of democracy around the world, does no-one think the people of Europe, not just the elite, should get a say in this?

  • 24.
  • At 10:03 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • DaveH wrote:

This was Bliar's plan right from the start as the "permanent President" idea in the Constitutioin was UK's ideas. Many UK servicemen have been killed or wounded so that he could suck up to Bush in the hope that the US would deliver the votes of the traditionally pro-US eastern European states as they joined the EU. Add in his offer to sell out Gibraltar for Spanish support and cosying up to Berlusconi and it is obvious how Bliar was hoping the votes would stack up.


Bliar himself said the EU needed someone, whom the US President could ring up and deal with promptly, but we do not need a "yes man" to lead us into mopre disastrous foreign adventures. The man is a war criminal, who should be on trial at The Hague, not representing the EU anywhere.

I am very much pro-EU, but I am now hoping that the treaty will go down in flames to prevent bthos wretched man having another ego trip over the bodiues of British servicemen. I would agree with the above suggestion of Herr Fischer, so that the world is clear that we are not the US's lapdog.

  • 25.
  • At 10:17 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Roger Ellis wrote:

Unfortunately another unelected job. Open the post of President of the Council to Europe-wide election. Make the candidates campaign among the people of Europe. And why not the vote for the Commissioners while we're about it.
We get pitifully few chances to vote for Europe (Euro parliamentary elections have precious little to do with Europe). If, on the rare occasions that we do get a chance to vote, we vote in the "wrong" direction we are told that we don't understand the issues and are ignored (or as Giscard d'Estaing said, we should continue voting until we get it "right").
The EU/EC is afraid of democracy and does its best to avoid it.

  • 26.
  • At 10:20 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Paul Manley wrote:

Like him or loathe him one could not fail to be impressed by Tony Blaire's interview on French TV last weekend - I admit to doing a double take because there was our Tony speaking French. Quite bizarre, and dare I say, quite impressive. I think he wants the job.

  • 27.
  • At 10:45 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • OscarD wrote:

As a strong pro-European, I feel unhappy with this situation.

Firstly, an important position is going to be filled through negotiations between heads of states, rather than through a European-wide vote. This is not in the spirit of democracy and will serve to further widen the gap between the public and Brussels.

Secondly, Tony Blair is the worst imaginable candidate. In European affairs he was always as PM a voice for the British tabloids and for the White House. Furthermore he is accused of grave crimes in connection with his staunch support for George W. Bush's war on terror.
That should lead to a big red line being drawn. Presumably the European parliament has a veto on this position. If Blair is suggested they must use that veto.


Angela Merkel and Jean Claude-Juncker would however both be ideal.
Dr Merkel has played a leading role in environmental and human rights questions. She has also demonstrated the ability of bringing heads of states together, whilst chairing the presidency. Mr Juncker is a great European visionary. He recently gave a pro-European speech in Switzerland which had many senior politicians saying it is the best speech they have heard in years. Apparently he played a key role in suggesting and launching the Euro. I don't know why Mr Mardell does not think he is suitable.

  • 28.
  • At 10:49 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Joe wrote:

Now there is a thought!

A man who has spoken to the Almighty and got an answer and acted upon it, that is the sort of man Europe needs.

But come to think of it, why not have the Almighty himself?

George Bush!

  • 29.
  • At 10:55 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Kenneth Bladon wrote:

The lack of democracy in Europe is precisely what attracts Blair to the role; look at his contempt for Parliament when he was PM.

Blair was and remains a totally discredited has-been who disgraced his high office. The only worse Government of modern times than Blair's is Gordon McStalin's, and that includes the Major years.
It will surely be the very last straw if Blair is even considered for the post, let alone appointed.
The decent overwhelming majority of the people of this Continent deserve better - after all there could not be much worse.
The revolution cannot be far away. Enough is surely enough.

  • 31.
  • At 11:11 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Mark Bentley wrote:

So if Angela Merkel loses an election at home she may be in line for the top job in Europe. Nice to see that the culture of jobs for the boys and girls in Brussels would override the views of voters!!

  • 32.
  • At 11:14 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Ronald Grünebaum wrote:

This "President" will only chair the summits (i.e the European Council). The individual thematic Councils (where all the real work is done and the decisions are made) would still be chaired by the rotating Presidency.

Only if the new President attempts to massively influence the working Councils, he/she will make a difference. This is not very likely as the President won't even have the resources to do so.

Tony Blair neither has the standing nor the discipline to make that effort, anyway. The ceremonial alternative will certainly not please him.

These are the technicalities. More importantly: I cannot imagine for a second that the EU would be so suicidal to chose a President who is loathed by a large number (we are talking hundred of millions here) of EU citizens. This dislike of the man who went into a war of aggression and never showed the slightest remorse (remember, the EU is Europe's historical response to such ruthless men) will never go away.

For me it is another sign of British hubris vis-a-vis the rest of Europe that Blair is considered a serious candidate. The Euro, Schengen and the fundamental rights do mean something to us, even if the Brits won't get it. Britisch obstruction in the EU should not and will not be rewarded.

And after all: Being chosen by Mr. Sarkozy is the kiss of death. Sarko's star is falling amazingly fast.

  • 33.
  • At 11:40 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Odtaa wrote:

In his leadership of the UK Tony Blair has demonstrated that he is totally unsuited for the job.

1) Time and again he has given in to American pressures. Effectively the UK is now a puppet state of the US. While I see that there are many issues the EU, UK and the US can agree on - I feel that Blair will try and turn the EU into an American colony. This would be totally unacceptable.

It would also be dangerous as Iran and Russia are a lot closer to use than America and the simplistic world view of Washington could push the Iranian radicals into more extreme positions and restart the expensive and potentially threatening cold war.

2) Blair is not very good at the boring detail of politics. The new treaty will require lots of background work, negotiating

3) The British political system is now very short term, which is why our public services and infrastructure have fallen behind the majority of northern European countries.

4) The British political system is probably more centralised than any other European country, which is why we fear the fantasy of a European 'SuperState.' With Blair as President it would be a fight for control and minimisation of the democratic features of the treaty, such as giving the EU Parliament more power.

5) Blair has demonstrated that he is only politics for himself. He would only be doing the job to get into the history books, enhance his legacy and improve his financial position after he has stepped down.

Let him play at being peace negotiator/American envoy in the Middle East, where by refusing to talk to Hamas, he has no chance of success; let him receive fat salaries from banks; and let him earn fat fees from speaking to conference centres in America.

But let's not have him ruin the next phase of that remarkable institution the EU.

  • 34.
  • At 11:41 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Stephen Quinlan wrote:

Aren't the British media forgetting another viable candidate for the role of EU President?
Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister is also being seriously considered. Mr Ahern has been Prime Minister for nearly 11 years and is the 'Father of the European Council'. Mr Ahern has indicated that he will step down in the near future after being re-elected in May 2007. Unlike Mr Blair, he has not made enemies in Europe over EU Budgets, Iraq Wars and he leads one of the most pro-European member states. He also played a key role in negotiating the EU Constitution and its successor, the Lisbon Treaty and was the Head of the EU when enlargement took place in 2004. Surely if he succeeds in getting the Lisbon Treaty ratified (Ireland is the only country that will have a referendum), he will be the favourite to get the nod over Mr Blair.

  • 35.
  • At 11:46 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Sean Ellis wrote:

As an Irish citizen, looking forward to voting on the Lisbon Treaty, the prospect of being represented by President Blair, seals the deal in convincing me to vote "NO" in the referendum. The proposed appointment of a slippery charlatan like Blair is not going to ease the fears of anyone who has doubts about ceding national sovereignty to Europe. Many of us in Ireland still feel protective of the idea of neutrality, which is written into our constitution. Our own flakey politicians have already been bullied into pushing it to the limits by allowing armed US soldiers and rendition flights to use our airports and there is a sense that we have become a military asset in spite of general public antipathy towards the imperialistic designs of the US and Britain. The mention of the name of warmonger like Tony Blair as the leader of the European enterprise can only set off alarm bells. Blair has shown nothing but contempt for both popular opinion and the United Nations in pushing forward the US/British military agenda, was unapologetic when his intelligence operatives were accused of bugging the office of Kofi Annan and has willingly allowed himself to be the puppet of anyone who will bolster his megalomania. The British people may have been conned by his grinning mug into voting him back into power again and again. But, do you really have to foist him on the rest of us?

  • 36.
  • At 11:51 AM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Pierre Garenne wrote:

Didn't we have enough of his half-lies, sleaze and spin in the UK. Europe needs someone of integrity who has the confidence of the people of Europe. It would be ridiculous to even suggest Blair who never represented anyone but himself and is viewed with intense distrust by well over half the population.

  • 37.
  • At 12:22 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Nick Morton wrote:

How bad can things get? An european president? When's the referendum? Blair to be president? I know the EU is a sick joke, so perhaps putting another sick joke in the presidential chair is appropriate.

  • 38.
  • At 12:29 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Electric Dragon wrote:

Doesn't Tony have enough jobs to keep him occupied? As if being the Quartet's Middle East Peace Envoy, advisor to the boards of JP Morgan and Zurich and to the government of Rwanda wasn't enough, now he wants to be President of the EU Council? Surely if the job has any power, it has to be full time, which would preclude the other jobs - not to mention any potential conflicts of interest.

  • 39.
  • At 12:49 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Philip Edwards wrote:

Blair's candidacy for the EU Presidency is a non-starter. His European credentials, along with those of the UK, are zilch. Not only did he put up the backs of most EU leaders in invading Iraq, but also his dithering and general lack of direction during the UK Presidency did not go unnoticed. It would also be a slap in the face for the EU's credentials to appoint a person from a non-participating Member State which has opted out of just about everything. The idea that Blair is some sort of "world statesman" is shared by two people alone: Blair and George "Dodo" Bush. Enough said.

  • 40.
  • At 01:19 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Torsten wrote:

Tony Blair, for me, will always be one of the two Mr. Iraq-war instead of President of the European Union. He already lost his former job as Prime Minister in Britain, what reason does it make to give him a chance to represent all of us? The vast majority of Europeans has been and is against this war, the EU cannot honestly believe that this man will be respected as "head of state" of the EU. And beyond Britain has not joined the Euro, is not part of Schengen etc., there are far better options than Blair. Give us someone from the core-Europe.

Merkel, another possibility if not reelected in Germany. The case of not being reelected is quite possible because our "left-block" in the federal parliament and most of the Länder-parliaments is far stronger than the "right-block" and seems to gain more votes every week (and I am really in favour of this). I do not want Merkel to run Germany as chancelor and I do not want her to run the EU either. The EU's biggest member gets rid of it's head of state and this person gets his/her second chance in Brussels as president. Bizare...

Another option is that the people vote for the EU president. I would love to vote for him with my European fellows but keep in mind that the EU is made of souverain national states and nationalism is far stronger than solidarity in Europe. This option would probably result in a presidency who always is German.

My favourite is Luxemburg's Juncker simply because for me he is the "most-European" we have in these days. I really love the idea of a common Europe and I do not want it to be destroyed by nationalism. I think a president from a small member state would serve us all the best. Junker for president!!!

  • 41.
  • At 01:25 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Freeborn John wrote:

The formal power of this EU Council President is limited mainly to agenda-setting but it does come with significant informal power deriving from exclusive access to the negotiating positions of all the governments in the Council that no one else is privy to. Any further powers to be given to this President would have to be taken from somewhere else, i.e. from our elected governments, and this would mean exacerbating the crisis of democratic legitimacy already engulfing Brussels. The Lisbon Treaty and the position of EU President it creates have no democratic mandate anyway. But for Blair to suggest the power of this President should be increased on the grounds that he sees himself in the role is purely self-seeking.

In practice I think it unlikely (though not impossible) that Mr. Blair will be offered this position simply because the decision will be made by a committee of current heads of government, some of whom want the job themselves. How often does the College of Cardinals elect a pope from outside their number? In practice he is being talked about because Federalists would like to increase the power of the role and think the British will object less if a Briton is in the frame and they think Blair will be more prepared to persuade us of the dubious benefits of the EU than he was as PM when we could sanction him at the ballot box. After so many years in power the nation becomes rather weary of any politician no matter what their merits. It happened to Thatcher and it has happened to Blair. It seems doubtful to me that his threadbare appeal is sufficient to fulfil the hopes that Federalists now place in him. That Blair is being discussed at all is perhaps a sign that Federalists recognise they have a problem, i.e. the antipathy in this country towards their project and the undemocratic means with which it is advanced. That said Jean-Claude Juncker is the very personification of the Monnet Method of integration by stealth and is unfit for any political office.

------------------

"We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don't understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back." -- Jean-Claude Juncker, describing how the EU works.

"If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue'” -- Jean-Claude Juncker, on the French Referendum in 2005.

  • 42.
  • At 01:47 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Peter wrote:

A lot of names have been mentioned, but no one has mentioned the Irish Prime minister, Bertie Ahern?
He is a well respected and experienced European leader.
I think he would be perfect for the job.

  • 43.
  • At 01:49 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

Considering what a fine job he did bringing peace to the Middle East and in such a short time, how can someone like Tony Blair with that much success in foreign relations in his last job be overlooked? And he was adamantly Pro-EU, it was his misfortune to have much of the rest of Britain against it so why hold that against him personally?

Of course, there are people more representative of what Europe is about. How about Chirac, de Villepin, or Schroeder? Now there are some guys who really know how to pick a fight with the United States. Italy's Prodi might be available soon.

"He wants to wait and see how the job is fleshed out as meat is put on the bones of the Lisbon Treaty."

How very like the rest of the Lisbon Constitution, it is so vague, even the role and responsibilities of the President isn't defined. What a piece of work the EU is. Small wonder governments of those nations who have to pay in don't want to put it to a public referendum.

"The person will of course represent the European Union, and they will of course have to do the work that the presidency of the Council does now: arranging agendas, chasing decisions, knocking heads together."

This doesn't sound like the function of a President to me, it sounds more like the First Secretary of the ruling party. Why not just settle for a King or Queen? Now that would be really European. He could hold court in any one of countless castles.

So this is how Europe chooses a President while in the US there are candidates making speeches, debating, running in primaries, caucuses, selected by conventions, more debates, more campaigns, and then a general election. And in Europe....a deal in the back room by an unelected Parliament. EU or EUSSR?

  • 44.
  • At 02:13 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • brian whittle wrote:

president blair of the soviet EU what a joke he was a bad PM just like Brown do you think i will fight for a EU army have to shoot me first.

  • 45.
  • At 02:14 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Rob wrote:

Blair would be as much of a disaster in this role as he became as PM. Prestige and power, while unelected and unaccountable, is of course a delightful prospect for someone of his character. He is the last person we need in this position. Let him fade into well-deserved obscurity.

  • 46.
  • At 02:21 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • brian whittle wrote:

hi mak
there could still be a referendrum


pivotal question to be answered by the courts is whether Parliament really enjoys, or has ever enjoyed unfettered "supremacy" to do whatever it likes, as it is wont to claim.

We have been studying the British Constitution, most of which is written but not codified in one document, for ten years. We believe that ministers are limited by the confines of the Constitution; that they have no authority to surrender, or lend, sovereignty to another power, especially one that is unelected, unaccountable, irremovable and owes no allegiance to the British Crown.

They have no power to assume Royal prerogative or the right to break their oaths of allegiance and office, or cause the Sovereign to break his or her contract (Coronation Oath) with the people to govern according to their laws and customs.

If ministers try to enact bad or damaging law, the Crown, one of the three legs of governance, has a duty to refuse assent. Anyway, how can the strictly impartial Crown accept partial advice based on political whim?

from the telegtraph

  • 47.
  • At 02:50 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • jamie wrote:

Whilst Blair is not the most savoury of candidates, it would be nice to get a more "British" slant on politics in Europe. The trouble with Europe and it's policies is it tends to be too stuck in te past, which Germany is currently struggling to deal with, so a bit of a change in the political air at the very top can do no harm IMO.

As for his "European credentials", given the chance he would have introduced the Euro if it had been at all possible and unlike in other member states the UK did not have a referendum on the constitution, mainly because he and the government would have had no qualms about ratifing it.

  • 48.
  • At 03:06 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Luis wrote:

Blair as CPresident would be the most juice piece of irony ever, only second to a Hussein as US President.

I mean, just think about it, the British are often worried about who does their PM serve, British Interests or European ones. Now we'd have someone who clearly serves none! Delicious irony!

Anyhow, I do not think the President should actualy have any more political weight then the rotating presidents already have. Main reason beeing the position's lack of democratic legitimacy, but also the possibility of clashes with the Commission President and Foreign Afairs Commissioner.

I'd like to know why Mark claims Luxemburg's PM to be impossible: he doesn't seem to step on too many toes, he can think Euriopean, and beeing from the smallest country scares no-one.
Guessing it's the British goverment that doesn't like the guy for some reason, but then again who do they like, besides blair? ;)

  • 49.
  • At 03:23 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Stephen Quinlan wrote:

What about Bertie Ahern, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister)? Ahern is the Father of the European Council and played a pivotal role in the negotiations for the Constitution and then again for the Lisbon Treaty. He is well liked and respected in Europe, has no obvious enemies and leads a small pro-Europe nation, something which will endear him to other smaller nations unlike Blair. He is a good negotiator, demonstrated aptly by his role in the Northern peace process and has economic experience having been a former Finance Minister and having guided Ireland in its golden age for the past decade. Surely he's the most experienced and able candidate?

  • 50.
  • At 05:20 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • chris wood wrote:

blair like the EU one big sad joke was out of touch with is people as PM just like our sad PM BROWN

  • 51.
  • At 05:41 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Paul D wrote:

Perhaps we should all be lobbying our Irish friends to vote 'no' in the referendum so that the whole thing is thrown back in the melting pot for another few years.

(By the way, Steven #19, you are right about the pronounciation of Sarkozy but remember that the name is Hungarian and 'S' is pronouced 'Sh'here so 'ShArkozy' is probably the correct form).

  • 52.
  • At 05:58 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • B J Peters wrote:

I think Vaira Vike-Freiberga who was President of Latvia 1999-2007 would be the best choice for EU President. She is an incredibly able and well respected statesman both on the world stage and in the EU (7 EU countries have given her official state honours).

She is fairly apolitical, not belonging to a party during her presidency, and had an approval rating of over 75% in Latvia and was put forward by all the Baltic countries to stand for UN Secretary general.

She has a strong but not subservant relationship with America and is well experienced at standing up to Russia - both of which will be crucial to the EU over the coming years.

Finally she comes from one of the 'small' EU countries so would be popular amongst the newer members who resent the 'big' countries clinching all the 'big' jobs. Furthermore, these 'big' countries may do much better out of jointly backing a relatively neutral, inclusive, pro-EU candidate rather than scrapping messily amongst themselves to get their man into the top job.

  • 53.
  • At 06:28 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Christopher wrote:

Personally I'd love to see Blair in the role. While it could backfire with the British public, it could also help swing the mood in the UK to have 'their guy' at the head of Europe (in much the same way as US states tend to back thie natives for the Presidency). It would also be a clear sign at the international level that the job is heavyweight. Merkel would send the same signal, of course.

Unfortunately, I do not think it likely. As you mentioned, the EU tends towards the compromise candidate (Barroso, anyone?) and sad to say no nation, not even Poland, is as divisive as the UK.

  • 54.
  • At 06:54 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Tim wrote:

Of course Blair will become EU President.

He "deserves" to be rewarded by the EU for giving up our British rebate without any reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. This was an otherwise inexplicable concession.

  • 55.
  • At 08:44 PM on 07 Feb 2008,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

Sean Ellis (35. At 11:46 AM on 07 Feb 2008) - Please, please, please campaign for a NO vote in the Irish referendum on the Reform Treaty. (If you don't I'll campaign for Tony Blair to president out of spite!).

  • 56.
  • At 12:49 AM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • mike wrote:

It is unfortunate that so many British citizens don't appreciate what a great PM Tony Blair was. I wish he could run for President of the US; he would have my vote. Tony Blair is a great man and gifted politician.

Having said that it, saddens me as an American anglo-phile to see how many Brits are willing to give up their sovereignty and tradtions to this EU monstrosity. I can understand supporting some level of economic unionism, but not to the degree of having a European super state. The British people should be proud of their heritage and not so eager to surrender it to the undemocratic elitist EU.

  • 57.
  • At 04:57 AM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Tony Robinson wrote:

I won't be allowed to vote on it. Based on recent experience, he would ignore any promises he made. Forget it and just work for the destruction of the "EU".

  • 58.
  • At 09:46 AM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Patrick wrote:

You will never find a figure for the post who satifies just anybody. Tony Blair is obviously a very well known and capable person and should qualify for the job easily.

To soothe his critics, however, it may be wise to fill the job of HR with someone like the former German FM Joschka Fischer, at the same time.

  • 59.
  • At 11:12 AM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Finn logic wrote:

Let's loan the idea of Eurovision:

1) EU members nominate their candidates
2) one candidate per member state
3) member states are allowed to combine their efforts (as an example France and Germany may promote Angela Merkel together. Sweden, Denmark, Baltic states and Finland may join their forces and have therefore one candidate together)
3) then we have some big, live, Europe-wide debates and campaigns
4) candidates may travel across EU promoting their ideas, kissing babies in front of cameras and meeting people of different countries (every vote count)
5) then we, the people of Europe, vote

Can't get any simplier than that and we soon love it.

  • 60.
  • At 12:04 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Isidro Ramos wrote:

I don't think Tony Blair has the slightest possibility to get the job. The reaction in all of Europe (at least outside Great Britain) would pretty much be: Not him! Not again! Above all, not in a position in which he would be our voice vis a vis the president of the United States! Before 2003 he could have succeeded, but today there is no way he can overcome both being British and his role in the Iraqi WMDs fiasco.

Further, there is no way the president of the Council is going to be from a southern/latin country, not with Barroso presiding Commission and Solana in the 'Foreign Office' (so to speak). And being such a new position, the first President of the Council should, almost must, be already well known amongst world leaders.

I don't think Ahern or Juncker do really fit the bill so well as Angela Merkel; she would be perfect. From one of the 'Four Great', veteran, hasn't made too many enemies, and a woman to boot.

  • 61.
  • At 12:25 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • dasaefx wrote:

I would prefer seeing Mr.Blair being trialled for crimes against humanity than as the president of EU. Remember, this is the man that in fact created the so-termed "alliance of the willing" , essentially justifying Bush's destructive wars on false pretenses. Blair for EU president must be a kind of pervert joke.

  • 62.
  • At 01:27 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Martin Ford wrote:

It is totally logical that a discredited, dishonest, self-server like Blair should be rewarded by the EU. The Iraq war is no concern - it is exactly Bliar's treacherous "poodle"/scheming character that recommends him to the EU's power brokers.

There will be no primaries or elections for the EU president. We will see exactly how the democratic aspirations of the people of Europe are contemptuously ignored in the appointment of a president.

At it's heart the EU is contemptous of popular democracy - it accumulates power by Stalinist bureaucratic methods.

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the EU is actively corrupting democratic traditions by stealthly, underhandly, accumulating unaccountable power - a process that operates through buying greedy, vain, self-serving political players at all levels, with the promise of joining their cabal of unaccountable power and privilage.

Has this gone beyond the point of no return? For the majority British MPS - whatever pathetic, distracting noises they might emit to the contrary - by their actions they are clearly far more hungry to sell out to the EU's corrupting grey eminence, than to respect our own democratic traditions.

One simple example, why is the Labour Party Executive currently threatening Frank Field, a highly respected MP? Is it because he is one of the few Labour MP's left who actually represents his constituents democratic aspirations?

  • 63.
  • At 02:06 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Ionut wrote:

In my opinion Mr Blair is not the best option for the EU's presidency! He's too pro-American and if he's not even wanted by the Brits (see the reasons why he left Downing St), why is he going to be "loved" by the rest of Europeans??? I'm sure Europe could have a better first President! Angela Merkel and Jean Claude Junker could be better options!
PS: just wanted to mention that i'm Romanian!

  • 64.
  • At 02:13 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • chris wood wrote:

hmm blair to be a unelected not wanted president of EU and when he was PM pushed for the treaty get you thinking dont it.Was it fixed all along decomcracy hmmm gone done like the titanic welcome to the EU were decomcracy as died.

  • 65.
  • At 03:04 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:

The "website aimed at stopping him on these grounds" (Iraq war) is aimed at stopping him on far more than these grounds alone - the petition puts forward several of the reasons proposed in the very next paragraph of Mark's blog.

  • 66.
  • At 03:53 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • martinned wrote:

L.S.,

Just to hijack this thread slightly: the British Foreign Office has released its own Consolidated Treaty, reflecting the law as it will be after the Reform Treaty enters into effect.

  • 67.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Marcel wrote:

@Stephen Quinlan (34)

Ireland is only pro EU as long as it is a net recipient.

First of all the constitutional treaty mark II (which is opposed by the peoples yet supported by politicians) hasn't passed yet and hopefully never will.

Second, Blair is totally unacceptable as he is someone who has shown he cannot be trusted. Merkel is unacceptable because she actively worked to undermine parliamentary democracy in the EU member states.

We must restore parliamentary democracy and thus kill off the EU which was constructed to bypass national parliaments and rule by decree from Brussels.

I take it that there will soon be 2 presidents? Corrupt Barroso who heads the politburo (commission) and corrupt Blair for the council?

But democracy? That the EU does not do as I have explained many times, the EU was built to bypass parliamentary democracy.

  • 68.
  • At 04:16 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Tel Tetel wrote:

Tony Blair has no European credentials.
Give me Angela Merkel anytime.
Or maybe Carla Bruni.

  • 69.
  • At 04:48 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Marcel wrote:

@ Stephen Quinlan (49)
you've spelled out why Ahern isn't qualified. He has, by working on the constitution and constitution mark II, actively worked to undermine parliamentary democracy and move legislative powers to Brussels in order to establish EU rule by decree. He has betrayed Irish parliamentary democracy to the unaccountable unelected crowd in Brussels.

  • 70.
  • At 05:36 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • greypolyglot wrote:

Blair is now as widely disliked in the UK as is the EU. Put the two together and you have a sure-fire recipe for what I would see as disaster - the collapse of the EU or the withdrawal of the UK from it.

  • 71.
  • At 07:01 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Brian D wrote:

Mark
A small comment from your small but very successful neighbour across the Irish sea.The president should come from a small country to lend credibility and lets be honest the only reason we opted out of Schengen is because of the UK opposition to it. We are very pro European so let Bertie show us the way forward-an all inclusive future!

  • 72.
  • At 07:02 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Denis O'Leary wrote:

Why did the Heads of State and Government decide to dispense with the rotating chair of the European Council? Simply because the larger Member States could no longer contemplate having their discussions directed by often neophyte Prime Ministers, especially from smaller countries, with little experience or knowledge of international and/or European Affairs and with staff who had even less. Tony Blair was once quoted on emerging from a European Council "We cannot go on like this!"

Ministers involved in technical Councils, on the other hand, get to know both their colleagues and the dossiers they deal with over lengthy periods of time. Take transport and agriculture, by way of example. Not every Member State has a large army but all have lorries and cows. They (the Ministers) also have sufficient political sense to realise that only someone with a political responsibility i.e. one of their number, can expect to successfully chair their meetings.

Being incapable of allowing the obvious candidate, the President of the Commission, to take on the role, the Heads of State and Government have come up with the idea of an elected chair on the pattern of that agreed for the Eurogroup.

Member States collectively see this for what it is, a chairing role and have carefully circumscribed the prerogatives of the incumbent in the Lisbon Treaty.

As to the High Representative chairing the Foreign Affairs Council (and dealing with proposals that he or she will have made), one wonders how long it will take the Foreign Ministers of 27 Member States to realise that they will have reduced their status to the level of Ambssadors to NATO.

Of course, the President of the General Affairs Council will still be the Foreign Minister of the rotating Presidency. Some possibilities there!

And the Prime Minister of the country holding the Presidency? Will his ministers take their instructions from him of from the President of the European Council/High Representative?

Questions, questions?

The one real benefit is that the French Presidency should see the end of "Euro-tourism" and the hijacking of each Presidency for national political prestige.

  • 73.
  • At 09:47 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Theodore Monteith wrote:

I believe that Foromer PM Tony Blair will get the job, due to experience, popularity, standing upto any challenge, great policies back here in the UK and being faithful.

Go Tony, We all know you can do it!!!

  • 74.
  • At 11:18 PM on 08 Feb 2008,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

So there's no nation/state, but there's going to be a president; there's no common foreign policy, but there's going to be a "foreign policy coordinator"; there are no troops capable of standing up to any real enemy (except tough, combat-tested Belgian, French, German, Greek and Italian ones, of course), but there's going to be an EU military force which will protect Europe as NATO dies a natural death when Americans, Brits and Canadians bail out sick&tired of carrying a dead wood.

Is this a joke?

If so, it's a pretty bad one.

  • 75.
  • At 03:58 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Samuel Crawford wrote:

Agree totally with Mr Peters - Vaira Vike Freiberga is the right choice for EU President. Not only did she revitalise Latvia but she certainly held her own on the international stage. Mr Putin hates her because she demands an apology for Soviet crimes against the people of Latvia but if the rest of the EU leaders can push Vaira forward, I think we'd see an extremely capable figure tackling the serious issues of today.

  • 76.
  • At 04:36 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Jonathan wrote:

Of course this discussion is premature, since the real work (ratification of the Lisbon Treaty) needs to be done first. Being the EU, the job will be very bureaucratic and unfortunately for any president, I guess the new post of High Representative, probably held by Solana, will have much more clout as he will sit in and chair both the European Commission and the European Council. We need a president from a small, diplomatic and strongly European country. Bertie Ahern would not be a bad choice, as would Alexander Kwasniewski (former Polish president) but why not Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Danish prime minister) or Jan Peter Balkenende (Dutch prime minister)?

  • 77.
  • At 11:01 PM on 09 Feb 2008,
  • Roderick V. Louis wrote:

"TOO MANY UK INTERNATIONAL MILITARY & RE-CONSTRUCTION OBJECTIVES ARE RESULTING IN NONE BEING FACILITATED COMPETENTLY/WELL ENOUGH FOR SUCCESS!"

It may seem a bit trite, but the saying that emphasizes "he who tries to succeed at all things, rather than only one- succeeds at none..." arguably could be applied to former UK prime minister- Mr Tony Blair- and his apparent 'competing interests' of facilitating an end to the Israeli/Palestine conflict as the UN's (the USA's defacto) special emissary and quitting this position in order to be appointed to the newly created office of a 'permanent' (2 and 1/2 year) EU Council of Ministers' president.

The same could be said for United Kingdom efforts- both under Mr Blair and afterwards- in supporting the USA in its "war on terror", from 2003-2008.

Re the first issue: Mr Blair ought to at the least give middle-east peace his best shot before he moves on with his considerable skills to another job...

How??

Getting Egypt to 'gift' to Gaza (from the Sinai peninsula) a comparatively large piece of land- perhaps 50 miles by 50 miles or even 100 miles by 100 miles in size or so- while obtaining commitments from G8 nations/Saudi Arabia/similar wealthy Arab states to build/pay for building on this 'expanded Gaza' a "new" Gaza/city or at least the roads/rail/power/water/banking/financial-exchange/customs/sea-port and similar infrastructure necessary for it to function independently of Israel->>> and free of this country's real and potential interference (in these & related areas) might be a way toward these objectives.

Re the UK's support of the USA in the misnamed 'war on terror':

UK military/other resources being spread far too thinly is plainly one of the central causes of its lackluster- if not scandalously inadequate- performance as occupiers & good-governance instillers/infrastructure re-builders in southern Iraq.

The laudable substantial UK military and other resources deployed in Afghanistan from 2003-2008 instead could have constructively been applied to the very worthy- and indescribably urgent- objectives inherent to the USA-led coalition's 'Iraq mission' objectives.

Not doing so, in effect, has robbed UK Iraq efforts of sufficient focus and the necessary 'critical mass' needed to stop the genesis and deep establishment (over the last 4-years or so) in southern Iraq of what has become an internecine, sectarian-war type disaster.

The future?

The UK Parliament ought to be enabled to debate and then vote on 'where' UK military & related resources can be of most use: Iraq or Afghanistan, and after this- whether the UK ought to continue prosecuting military/reconstruction endeavors in both of these needy countries, rather than in one or the other.

A substantially beefed-up UK presence in southern Iraq, perhaps as part of a UK led, coordinated British Commonwealth countries' "Iraq-government-assistance and southern Iraq reconstruction force" would be significantly more likely to 'succeed' in addressing that part of Iraq's grievous, festering problems, than the embarrassingly miniscule, obviously inadequate-for-their-tasks UK contingent in Iraq from 2003 until today.

Supporting the USA in its reasonable goals is something that the UK ought to not shy away from.

But surely, common sense would demand that 'the UK attempts to pick supporting roles it can/is likely to be able to succeed at', and declines to participate in roles supporting the USA that- if simultaneously carried out with current or expected UK commitments- will damagingly detract from the UK's abilities to succeed at these current or expected commitments.

Finishing job one before moving on to another- or at least giving job one 'your best shot' before attempting another- is a principle that both Mr Blair and leaders of/politicians in the United Kingdom would do well to bare in mind...


Roderick V. Louis,
Vancouver, BC, Canada,
ceo@patientempowermentsociety.com

  • 78.
  • At 01:51 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Seán Ward wrote:

Mr. Quinlan, given the fact that Mr. Ahern's days as Taoiseach are increasingly looking numbered as the Mahon tribunal proceeds sluggishly, I can't say I support your recommendation, but thanks anyway.

  • 79.
  • At 11:01 AM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Fatmir CARRABREGU wrote:

Tony Blair will be remebered forever for stoping the wars in balkans and for bringing the british econommy in the best shape ever.
I wish him and his family the best in life!God bless you mr Blair!

  • 80.
  • At 12:32 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Stanley Wright wrote:

Blair woud be an absolute disaster, as he was as Prime Minister in the UK
How can anyone think seriously he is the man for the job .. even if we knew what is the job. I woud much prefer that he retires quietly and writes his memories .. and I for one will nominate them for 'comedy of the year' when they eventually appear, though I won't be buying the over-priced volume.

  • 81.
  • At 01:28 PM on 10 Feb 2008,
  • Alexander Jablánczy wrote:

Perhaps democracy is only possible in a city state, megastate conglomerations will degenerate into imperial dictatorships. So they are looking for an emperor.
Ask India how they do it the only multiform megastate that is a semblance of democracy.
The Pope speaks a dozen European languages well, evidently the cardinals have higher job standards than EU politicians. Now if only Ratzinger could be forty years younger...
Actually I am not joking if any of the British royals spoke any languages other than Welsh they might have applied.
Which leaves us Otto Habsburg but he is nearly a hundred and he also speaks nearly as many languages as the Pope. Finally we have the Spanish King who has superb democratic credentials Juan Carlos singlehandedly stopped falangist putsch. But he is also seventy. Perhaps as interim Emperor. He also put that clown dictator from Venezuela in his place.
Tony Blair must be a bad example of British humour, to unite the empire wage war elsewhere. Except he divided it.
If Europe is incapable of democracy it's not Europe.
The Plutocratic Empire of the Western Asian Peninsula.

  • 82.
  • At 11:20 AM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • nicolas wrote:

Blair won't be the president of European Community since there is no euro in UK. Many politicians won't agree this idea.

when will the beeb blogs support a feed format other than RSS?

  • 84.
  • At 02:34 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • Edward S wrote:

As the former leader of an “opt-out” EU member, Tony Blair should have the consistency decency not to want to become the EU’s president.

How about Jean-Claude Juncker as president and Joscka Fischer as high representative? That way, there should be a good division of labour: Fischer on the international stage, Juncker taking care of relations within the EU, and both small and large states, and the left and the right, would be happy.

  • 85.
  • At 03:31 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • john somer wrote:

Tony Blair has already been the Council's president in 2005 and we saw how it went. It started with a bang and finished with a whimper, Just look at the EU parliament during ita last session during the British presidency, filled with recriminations over vast promises and meager accomplishments. A Blair "permanent" presidency would be full of rhetoric (i.e. spin and hot air) and devoid of solid accomplishments

  • 86.
  • At 03:50 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • David Morrison wrote:

Can we possibly expect the Irish electorate to support the Lisbon Treaty if they suspect Tony Blair or Bertie Ahern would become president? This is an issue that should wisely be put to rest before the referendum.

  • 87.
  • At 07:00 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • mark wrote:

Britain did not fight and win world war 1 & 2 for a german to become the president of europe 60 years later.it is disgusting to even think about the germans ruling europe,again if they can`t win the war they try it thro the backdoor instead,britain should and has the full rights to lead europe and be the first president of europe.go for it tony blair

  • 88.
  • At 09:05 PM on 11 Feb 2008,
  • meleze wrote:

how could it be possible that Great Britain takes the lead of Europe without giving up the pounds for euro?

  • 89.
  • At 10:23 AM on 12 Feb 2008,
  • Justin wrote:

Deapite the Iraq War, Mr. Blair is still popular with a lot of Europeans and would make a fantastic President for Europe.

Also, I want us to have caucuses and primaries like the Americans do.

  • 90.
  • At 11:31 AM on 12 Feb 2008,
  • Greg wrote:

People should remember that Blair throughout his entire political career has only stood for one thing, and one thing only. That is the advancement of Blair.

If Blair thought that he could gain more on a personal basis from being anti-EU he would swop sides in an instant.

  • 91.
  • At 02:10 PM on 12 Feb 2008,
  • Red Brown wrote:


Namés for a European President being suggested to comply with the statutes of the Treaty of Lisbon the camouflaged and now rejected European Constitution.A Constitution / treaty over which European citizens have not been consulted.

What hipocrasy.

Europe constantly preaching democracy to third world countries when our own political system is undemocratic. Ministers and Commissioners taking decisions in secret over which even our elected European Parliamentarians have no control.It is evident that our European controlers are not prepared to let European citizens have control over their antidemocratic actions.Even the Constitution / Treaty standardises European actions in every aspect except the European Justice system.

How can European Citizens control the actions of their politicians if court cases have to be initiated in the courts of the member state where the offence was commited. Which in the case of Spain for example could take twenty years to arrive at an ineffective decision at an astranomic cost.

I am sure that many people of my age who voted in favour of a United Europe, voted I may add in a a referendum which took place after Edward Heath had taken the decision on Britains entry, would now vote against the undemocratic tax sucking monster we now call mistakenly democratic Europe

  • 92.
  • At 04:23 PM on 12 Feb 2008,
  • Euro Master wrote:

Mr. Blair as NO CHANCE of becoming the first President of the E.U. and you brits should leave the European Union, because as you say you are not Europeans enough (or true Europeans) just Islanders (Ireland however is full European).

  • 93.
  • At 06:02 PM on 12 Feb 2008,
  • Sascha-Andre´ Liehr , Berlin wrote:


Tony Blair chairing the European Council
would be an excellent choice. The new post created by the Lisbon Treaty includes rather representational functions but needs a figure with charisma. The new "President" will be the first visible persona and spokesman representing the real EU decision-making institution, the Council.
There is no doubt that Blair is able to adapt to the preconditions. As a UK Ex-PM he could probably reconnect the
British people with the European Union ending an era without identification and responsibility towards the EU.

  • 94.
  • At 07:18 PM on 12 Feb 2008,
  • Roy Martinez wrote:

Even if Tony Blair might have the charisma it would be a very poor signal to the European Union if he was appointed.
Really cannot see how this position can be given to Britain when the UK is not in Euroland, has been consistently anti Europe, has a mainstream Conservative party which is committed to leave the EPP and associate itself with Nationalist leaders/parties.
No this position must be filled by a candidate from one of the committed European countries irrespective of their charisma.
Any decision to the contrary would be a betrayal and snub to the EU principles

  • 95.
  • At 07:27 PM on 12 Feb 2008,
  • Roy Martinez wrote:

Even if Tony Blair might have the charisma it would be a very poor signal to the European Union if he was appointed.
Really cannot see how this position can be given to Britain when the UK is not in Euroland, has been consistently anti Europe, has a mainstream Conservative party which is committed to leave the EPP and associate itself with Nationalist leaders/parties.
No this position must be filled by a candidate from one of the committed European countries irrespective of their charisma.
Any decision to the contrary would be a betrayal and snub to the EU principles

  • 96.
  • At 01:36 AM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • Marvin Graves wrote:

Please not Tony Blair, the UK should first decide if they are Europians? They want the benifits of Europe but appear not to be part of it.

  • 97.
  • At 09:56 AM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • Roy Bennett wrote:

Well, really. Why on earth do you think the man converted to Catholicism at the end of his PM tenure? Europe is essentially a collection of Catholic states. Do you really think they would accept a Protestant as president?

  • 98.
  • At 05:07 PM on 13 Feb 2008,
  • abel wrote:


Yes Tony was a british premier but lets get real. During this mans term his greatest failure was actually in foreign policy. Britain during Tony's tenure was virtually a mini America in terms of foreign issues. Everything Bush said Tony did. If Europe indeed intends on becoming a little American baby then yes Tony is the rightfull man.Gentle people of Europe you have a great continent so elect your own President not one for America.

Very good idea!

For sure Tony Blair can speak out clearly and make Europe a more powerful political entity.

His personal undeniable charisma would give an enormous boost to EU in the World!

  • 100.
  • At 01:38 AM on 14 Feb 2008,
  • Salim wrote:

Why some people never understand that their times are over and they should give a chance for a new generation of politicians. Mr.Blair, please leave, please!!!

  • 101.
  • At 03:17 AM on 14 Feb 2008,
  • Udo wrote:

Tony Blair would make a great president of anything. His credentials of jumping ship at exactly the right moment would probably stand him in good stead with the other rodents at the trough.

  • 102.
  • At 10:40 AM on 14 Feb 2008,
  • Tim Gallwey wrote:

Why do we have only ex-politicians being proposed for this job? In Ireland we have elected non-politicians for the Presidency and it has worked much better. Surely there must be similar candidates available for this job. But the big difference is that we voted for them rather than having them chosen behind the scenes in the legendary "smoke-filled rooms", a facility that will hopefully disappear across the EU in the next few years.

  • 103.
  • At 05:48 PM on 14 Feb 2008,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

John Somer ( 85. At 03:31 PM on 11 Feb ) writes: "A Blair "permanent" presidency would be full of rhetoric (i.e. spin and hot air) and devoid of solid accomplishments".

I'd say that's the best possible outcome. The last thing we in Britain need is for the EU to actually do anything.

  • 104.
  • At 07:58 PM on 14 Feb 2008,
  • nicolas wrote:

that will be a great success! Why not having him at 1st, Sarkozy after and Berlusconi. the European community will be great!

The DEMOCRATIC Europe!

  • 105.
  • At 10:03 AM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • brian whittle wrote:

when have we had a fair say on the EU when its was called the EC we had no say about it becoming the EU weres decomcracy MARK ask that question to yourself...

  • 106.
  • At 02:20 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Francois Uhres wrote:

Mark,

True, Jean-Claude Juncker isn't exactly the most glamorous of choices but, unlike Blair he's a true European and a fierce negotiator at that. What's more, when was the last time someone from Luxembourg was involved in a diplomatic row?

  • 107.
  • At 03:39 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Anthony Saez wrote:

As you point out in your blog, why would true Europeans want a man from a country whose main strategic objective in joining the EU was to slow it down instead of strengthening its institutions?

  • 108.
  • At 05:41 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • Yavuz wrote:

I thought we were delivered from Blair - Like a recurring nightmare he just does not seem to go away !

  • 109.
  • At 08:19 PM on 15 Feb 2008,
  • christos wrote:

blair as the first EU president..?? NO!!! not the first or never!! i don't see why the brits have to have the first EU president,while they are not commited to EU,most of them want to withdraw anyway...with so many red lines and opt outs why do they have to have a president..??

besides who can forgett that blair lied to his nation about the war in iraq,and has strong connections with the americans...what if the americans decide to go on war with iran,venezuela or north korea or any other nation and ask support from blair,no doubt he will give it to them but this time it will not be british troops,but EU troops which he will send....bringing europe in dangerous waters and target for more terrorism...!!! NO!!! simply....

  • 110.
  • At 12:07 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Sigi Krauthun wrote:

As long as European institutions keep on being misused as catchment basins for supernumerary politicians, the sorely needed reforms to open the EU institutions for a bit of democratic fresh air will never be implemented. For how long will Europeans continue to accept the bureaucratic monstrosities in Brussels and Strassburg?

Europe is full of political talent: why resort to or fall back on someone like Blair, a morally bankrupt figure with questionable European credentials? Or is this just tongue-in-cheek British humour???

  • 111.
  • At 05:48 AM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Tony Robinson wrote:

Feb 16th.

Why no blog for this week?

Is it half term??

  • 112.
  • At 12:55 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Dariusch wrote:

Well, whether this might be best thing of Britain is probably rather intuition than fact. Besides the EU is about rising above national interests and deal with the common interests of a public which is undeniably coalescing. Putting an obvious Eurosceptic as head of the Union would be as ambigious as having an atheist as pope. Another general point is (probably has been said above...): how could it be sold to the European public that they are represented by a person who has proven his severe disrespect for the public's desire, as the war in Iraq brilliantly demonstrates? The point about his political closeness to the US is a very important point in general. I assume we would prefer a leader who acts independent and not according to a misconception of solidarity and fantasy facts.
I'd call for a referendum on this matter, Blair probably wouldn't get higher than 10 %.

  • 113.
  • At 04:06 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • brian whittle wrote:

Not only as brown sold us to the evil EU he his planning to make us have a smoking liecense were as freedom OF choice gone .Just another Labour tax to folk up more money to the EU.Decomcracy as died with Gordon Brown and his labour party as sealed there fate at the next election worst goverment party in a hundred years...By the way Mark I dont smoke but it is freedom of choice to buy a pack of cigs and smoke them in non public places.THERE IS A NEW HOPE THE TORYS VOTE DAVID CAMERON....BUT THE LABOUR EMPIRE WILL STIKE BACK BUT CAMERON WILL WIN WITH THE RETURN OF THE TORYS

  • 114.
  • At 08:36 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • Richard Boesch wrote:

Tony Blair is the second most hated politician in Europe after G W Bush. If he is foisted on us it will totally dstroy my support for the EU (which has already been seriously eroded by the way the constitution, sorry treaty has been forced down our throats). I am a firm believer in a united Europe, but not one which is united in totally lacking democracy.

  • 115.
  • At 10:27 PM on 16 Feb 2008,
  • john somer wrote:

MaxSceptic, You don't seem to like the EU, so why don't you join the UKIP and get a referendum on Britain leaving the EU. I'll organize one on this side op the Channel to get funds for plugging the Chunnel.... Won't that be dandy ?

I fan him since the day he raised 'the new labour' slogan before steping into office. Now having done alot many wonders he is still young and ready to do more...with his new spiritual birth!!!

  • 117.
  • At 10:32 AM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • Mirek Kondracki wrote:

"Why on earth do you think the man converted to Catholicism at the end of his PM tenure? Europe is essentially a collection of Catholic states. Do you really think they would accept a Protestant as president?" [#97]


Would you prefer that he converted to Islam on advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury now, or wait until UK finally becomes a Sharia-based caliphate?

Like the rest of Eurabia.

NB. United States, in 1960 essentially a collection of states with Protestant majorities chose a Catholic (JFK) as its president.

divide and conquer
US and NATO got what they wanted. just hope the people of Kosovo don't end up eternal pawns
good luck to the new nation

  • 119.
  • At 12:46 PM on 18 Feb 2008,
  • christos wrote:

blair as president..?? NO!!!
first of all i don't see why britain should have a president,while having all those opt-outs,red lines etc..never commited to EU,most of them want to get out,so a british as president seems a joke...

second,we must not forgett that blair lied to his county men about the war in iraq,and sent troops there....what will happen if americans declair another war while he is president,either to iran or north korea or elsewhere..??will blair lie to us again and send EU troops this time to help his american friends thus bringing europe to the front of terror attacks..??NO!!!! absolutelly...

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