Before continuing with this blog-post I would like to clarify one thing, once and for all.
I will not be announcing my candidacy for the new role of EU President.
Some of you may be surprised that I was in the running at all. In fact, I never formally announced my candidacy, but one night in Stoumelings I understand that my name was banded around (did you now? – ed) – perhaps half in irony, who knows? – but nonetheless, Brussels is a small place and such talk can spread like wildfire. Sooner or later my name could have been mentioned in the company of Tony Blair, Herman Van Rompuy, and Jan Peter Balkenende.
I cannot deny that I considered it for a fleeting moment, but in the end I have taken the decision that if the Swedish Presidency were to come to me and say that there had been consensus on my appointment in the Council I would have turned it down. Why?
Because – and let’s be honest here – I cannot, in the words of UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, “stop the traffic in Beijing,” even if I wanted to. Furthermore, if the job is merely that of a glorified Chairman (as now seems to be its destiny), intent on finding muddy compromises between the EU-27, I don’t feel that this is the role I want the President of Europe to have. I would be going against my own principles.
The President of the EU! Population 500 million. The largest trading bloc in the world. Yet the economic giant will remain a political pygmy if its President is reduced to the role of a non-descript fonctionnaire.
Many Europeans cannot name a single MEP, let alone the President of the Commission, but it would be nice if they knew who the President of the EU was. After all, he or she will de-facto be representing their interests in the halls of the White House and on the roundabouts (so it would appear) of Beijing.
So unless the new President’s role is wide-ranging, attention-grabbing, and media-attracting, I hereby rule myself out of the running.