Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Right Choices for a Humbled EU

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Right Choices for a Humbled EU

Article excerpt

AS WITH so many decisions in a body composed of 27 member states, the choice of Herman van Rompuy as EU President and Catherine Ashton as EU foreign minister is a messy and inoffensive compromise. There was much about the decision-making process -- and the eventual selection of these two obscure politicians -- that was farcical. Yet they may end up proving sane choices.

Certainly neither possesses the traffic-stopping powers claimed for the man who never made it to the big job, Tony Blair. Mr Van Rompuy is a low-key figure almost unknown outside Belgium. Baroness Ashton, a life peer and then briefly EU Trade Commissioner, has never held elected office; her appointment is a triumph for Gordon Brown. But both are reputed to be capable, solid consensus builders -- more important attributes than bold leadership when trying to get 27 states to agree. Mr Blair would have been a divisive choice and too imperial a presence to be effective.

Just as important, those who now deride the EU's low-key choices might reflect that they embody a retreat from the hubris of the Lisbon Treaty. …

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