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Endemic EU backroom dealing could scupper Blair

Mark Urban | 18:42 UK time, Thursday, 29 October 2009


BRUSSELS: The prospect of the Lisbon Treaty coming into force has touched off a flurry of back room negotiations here.
None of it is going to boost the image of the European Union as a democratic, accountable, international body.

Next week's probable ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by the Czech Republic (the last it needs to come into force) has produced a classic Brussels dog fight over who should get the plum jobs of president and high representative for foreign and defence policy.

The treaty is meant to streamline the larger union and gets its process working better, but the fact that so many countries have felt unable to put their endorsement of the treaty to a popular vote hardly boosts the sense that Europeans are longing for it.

In its previous incarnation, the constitution, it was demolished by referendum "No" votes in France and the Netherlands.

So now many of the features of the constitution, such as those two new top jobs, have come in via the treaty, the diplomats are engaged in much febrile discussion on the margins of this summit.

Ripples from the sidelines

The people running this occasion would like it to concentrate on the issues of climate change and saving European jobs.


But now that former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is being mooted by some for the president's job, and Foreign Secretary David Miliband for that of high representative, there is only one story as far as the British press is concerned.

Certainly many journalists from other countries would rather cover the business of this summit straight, but the ripples emerging from meetings on the sidelines of the European socialists and centre right groups - in which each bloc has already started the horse trading needed to come up with a unified candidate - means that almost everyone here is now showing interest in this issue.

Some suggest that the centre-right bloc, as the dominant one in European politics at the moment, will expect to call the shots on the president's appointment and the socialists, as their consolation prize, on the high representative.

British hopes

This is clearly better news for Mr Miliband than Mr Blair, for one thing is clear, Britain cannot expect to get both plumb jobs.

So Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has enthusiastically backed Mr Blair's candidacy, did not look too pleased about it this afternoon when rumours leaked out about the apparent popularity of Mr Miliband in the socialists' group.

Mr Brown denied that his foreign secretary had been put on any kind of shortlist for the high representative's job.

Even Mr Miliband has denied he is a candidate. If he were to show enthusiasm for it, Mr Blair could easily be undermined in his quest for the bigger job.

All of this though simply strengthens the impression that the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will not usher in some great change in the way the Union does business.

Rather the back room dealing that has typified the Brussels process is continuing in grand style and that, incidentally, may well finish off Mr Blair's chances of gaining the president's post.


  • Comment number 1.


    Any organisation formed by individuals who join to gain personal advantage, rather than subsume self, in the pursuit of group-advance, will fail. Westminster is a good example. Maturity is the key - maturity is declining. We are no different from Afghanistan. The self-serving warlords are gathering in Brussels, backed by their 'tribal areas' pretending to work for some common good. For such a disgraceful exhibition of pathetic humanity, I can think of no more apposite 'dream topping', than Anthony Blair himself. They are welcome to him. What a circus!

  • Comment number 2.

    In submitting what he did barriesingleton (@ 1) has arguably rendered further postings unnecessary; I cannot readily think of a better summary. Could also explain why we were denied a vote; a "no" really would have spoilt their little games. At least it's nice to know that we are needed if only to pay for it all...

  • Comment number 3.

    Do the EU ececutives of the EU nations other than Britain want someone who can go to war? A 'Wannabe Winston' if they do - Blair is the man.

    If the other EU nation see this as a disadvantage - Then who are the other main candidates or is that another Brussels/Starsbourg secret? - It's not very democratic or transparent is it?

    This is the EU trait - deals behind closed doors (are these guys masons or something similar?)

    The media tend to focus on the personalities whereas arrogantly informal process itself is alarming and is hardly reported when it shows contempt for many millions of EU citizens?

  • Comment number 4.

    I have to agree that #1 sums it up really well. If the Eurocrats really wanted democracy then we'd be electing the EU commission and the EU president by popular vote across the whole of the EU, not leaving it to the warlords (good comparison) to decide. However, that would indeed spoil their party because various parts of the EU electorate have shown leanings in that direction before and had to try again before their answers were acceptable.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear Mark

    Rather the back room dealing that has typified the Brussels process is continuing in grand style and that, incidentally, may well finish off Mr Blair's chances of gaining the president's post.

    You sound as though you would regret Mr Blair not getting the post. Some of us have particular and so far little reported reasons for wondering whether he is really a suitable candidate.

  • Comment number 6.


    By eurocrats do you mean the people working in Brussels or the people who create, sign and ratify EU treaties on our behalf (our leaders)

  • Comment number 7.

    Blair might not be Euro President. Ahhh diddums.

    Well it will mean he won't have to give up all those lucrative US speaking engagements and bank jobs.

  • Comment number 8.

    The UK will need to establish whether it wants to be ruled by a foreign country which is what Europe, as a trading bloc has become. The United states of America do not have individual sovereign governments any more, and neither will Europe; anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves and burying their heads in the sand. This 'trading' bloc has been from its inception a 2nd Roman Empire and it needs an emperor.

  • Comment number 9.


    It seems that the Anglo-American Disease (being unable to tell a self-serving charlatan from a living saint) has spread to Europe. I have facetiously characterised Blair, previously, eminently suitable as a figure-head for that profligate, corrupt institution; but seriously, why would anyone appoint a shallow, wealth-and-adulation-insatiable narcissist, even as janitor? Now - as if that weren't enough, Miliband D (retrospectively cloning himself to conform with the Blair DNA) a man about as arrogant as any can be, when telling the world how 'it is done', is also in the EU frame for high office.


  • Comment number 10.

    "Britain cannot expect to get both plumb jobs"

    As someone currently suffering from brewer's drupe, I conker.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is all fair enough. I just wonder how all you critics think that posts in the national government and parliament are negotiated before they are put to a vote. When was there a referendum on Mr Brown as PM? Was it you who chose the new speaker of the parliament? And who proposed all the ministers? Was that publicly discussed or rather fought out behind closed doors between all the different groups within Labour (old leftists, new Labour, Scots, Welsh...)?

    Of course, politicians could stop talking to each other and just have funny votes every time they have to choose somebody for a new post. Now that would be a wonderful world, I suppose.

  • Comment number 12.

    people mingling at the summit.....Italian foreign minister to Brown.' I suppose you will be endorsing the canditure fo Mr Tony for EU President' Mr Brown replies, 'Of course I think he would make a fine EU President' the German ambassador interjects, 'But, Mr Brown the whole of Europe knows that you cannot stand Tony Blair' Mr Brown smiles and says 'I am currently the most unpopular man in Europe, if not the world so anyone with my seal of approval is dead meat....does that answer your question, those canapes look nice.....

  • Comment number 13.

    bring on the dealing if it destroys that guy from getting in.i don't care for europe,but i suspect after lisbon is again forced on the british people, we are going to see alot of the eu pres.not another 10 years please.

    what is a euro sceptic,is it someone who doesn't like french cheese.i say this because when someone is described as a euro sceptic,they never speak out and accept europe in a second.i have to say when it comes to politics it is usually the middle-class that has the cash,time and opportunity to show repugnance.but it seems to me we have the worst middle-class in europe.they have no backbone,accept every facist policy that is put forward and search cash and money with a fervour that i find disgusting.where are the pankhursts of our era.

  • Comment number 14.


    I heard Alastair Campbell doing that '100% eulogy for Tony' stuff, today. I could not get the fawning Waylon Smithers out of my head (with minor adjustments). . .

    I can only say again: When an accomplished fireman is also known to be an arsonist, why do people want to promote him to Fire Chief? Are our priorities now so skewed, we would rather enjoy adoring a nutter, and go down in flames, than have a life predicated on some degree of reality?

    Beggered if I can work out how we got here.

  • Comment number 15.

    Endemic EU backroom dealing and frontroom arrogant rigging and strutting has already scuppered any public faith in democratic process

    Nice picture, but.

  • Comment number 16.

    Blair has never had an iota of a chance of becoming the first puppet president of the corruption ridden democratically deficient eu. The grusome twosome merkel and sarkozy told him that he would be if he handed even more of the British tax payers money over to the economic black hole, run by unelected, failed politicians called the eu commission, and he was so centred on his own self glorification that he did as they asked, now we are left with a massive increase in our personal taxation, and Blair has been sidelined from politics forever, so there is at least one good thing to come out of it.


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