EU Appoints Two Top Officials

Team EU, who’s new? Part 1
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Two European leaders have been appointed to key positions in the European Council, according to an announcement at the EU summit. Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Federica Mogherini will replace Catherine Ashton as the EU’s new High Representative for foreign and security policy and Polish PM Donald Tusk will become the new president of the EC.

Two European leaders have been appointed to key positions in the European Council, according to an announcement at the EU summit. Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Federica Mogherini will replace Catherine Ashton as the EU’s new High Representative for foreign and security policy and Polish PM Donald Tusk will become the new president of the EC.

Team EU, who’s new? Part 2
How will the two politicians work together and reconcile their differences?

We discuss the appointments with Anna van Densky, a political observer and writer for the magazine EU Reporter, and Reinhard Goweil, a political analyst and the editor-in-chief of Wiener Zeitung.

Join in the discussion to find out what to expect from these new appointments and how they are going to reshape key EU policies.

The new appointments were made by the new head of the European Commission, Jean Claude Junker. Despite many fans in the EU, the opponents of Mogherini point out her young age and inexperience as her major weaknesses, while Tusk is seen as a hawk and favored by many Eastern European states of the bloc. What do you think about this nomination?

Anna van Densky: I think that the point of institutions is that the impact of a personality and a political personality is absolutely minimal. The idea of the European institution is that they represent a collective point of view. Today you saw it in the debate in the Parliament between Federica Mogherini and the European deputies. She renounced her Italian origin to such an extent that the Northern League reproached her. They said – you didn’t pronounce a single word in Italian, how come? They were extremely frustrated with that.

But that is the thing of the European institution – you denounce your national origin and become, like a president of a country becomes the president of all the citizens, the same with the European nominees. So, the impact of a personality is minimal. Of course, Federica Mogherini is a professional in foreign relations, unlike her predecessor, who wasn’t. But she still has no caliber of, for example, Benita Ferrero-Waldner. So, she is rather trying to win sympathies.

Donald Tusk, as Poland’s Prime Minister, was praised for leading the country in such a way that his country was unaffected by the recession. But what else sets him apart and could have promoted his nomination?

Reinhard Goweil: Poland is also one of the bigger countries within the EU. Poland has always said – we want to have an important job in Brussels. But being the head of the council is a very tricky job. Mr. Tusk will surely have a very important political job, but I think he has a quite limited power to deal with the economic crises in the future.

Anna, do you agree or disagree? How limited his powers are?

Anna van Densky: Actually, it is a symbolical appointment, because his powers are indeed very-very limited. The council is run by the meeting of the heads of states and governments. So, he is not decisive.

And I would disagree with his success and the Prime Minister. There is a massive immigration from Poland to Great Britain, for example, because there are not enough jobs and there are poorly paid jobs. So, not everybody is happy about his appointment, because his achievements are very illusionary and the problems with immigration are very vivid.

When you say – not everyone is happy – where exactly is that?

Anna van Densky: There is a diversity of views on the foreign policy of the EU. And putting such a personality who has a tough stance on Russia is a very adventurous decisions, because it doesn’t reflect the opinion of old countries, like France, Italy and even Great Britain, because they prefer to have a pragmatic approach towards Russia. So, many-many cool-headed politicians say it is not the right moment, it is not the right choice, we have to have somebody much more pragmatic, balanced and cool-headed.

Federica Mogherini and Donald Tusk are seen as two very-very different people with different positions, how do you think will they get along?

Reinhard Goweil: I think that’s quite a good development. I can’t see that this is really a problem. I think that they will come out with one tongue, because don’t underestimate Mr. Junker and his political talent.

Do you think that the language issue could be a problem with Donald Tusk’s new responsibilities?

Reinhard Goweil: I think that this is quite a real problem for Mr. Tusk, because there always are very sensitive discussions between the heads of governments within the council and during the meetings, sometimes, all the translators have to go out. So, surely, it is a topic that he learns English as quick as possible.

Why him, why not any other candidate?

Anna van Densky: I think because he is really-really very loyal to the US. He is the most loyal ally they could find. If you look at the other heads of the institution, you see that Federica Mogherini is a socialist. So, traditionally, socialists are very tolerant and they don’t have this sort of blind loyalty to the States.

The same counts for President of the European Parliament Schulz. He is also socialist and has a quite tough stance on the foreign policy of the US. And the same counts for Jean-Claude Juncker, who had a big conflict with Tony Blair over the future of Europe and he has a very strong personality he imposes on everyone he deals with in politics.

So, within these three personalities, who are very critical of the policy of the US, they decided that one person should be absolutely loyal. And this person with unquestionable loyalty to the US is of course Donald Tusk. He will follow closely whatever the White House will say.
Reinhard Goweil: It was time for one head of government from the so-called new block, from the Eastern European countries and Poland is the biggest of it.

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