The European Parliament (and indeed the EU) badly needs characters to liven up an often rather dull institution. Hence it’s sad that 2 of the most interesting and influential MEPs are departing this spring, for very different reasons.

Alexander Stubb (whose work I have previously praised) was appointed on 1st April (his 40th birthday) as Finland’s Foreign Minister. He’s hardworking, sharp, eloquent and astute – not too dissimilar to David Miliband. A big loss to the EP – I wish him well. However with Stubb’s family based in Belgium I wonder how long he will stay in Helsinki? There are 27 Commission jobs up for grabs in 2009 after all… Bente Kalsnes and Ralf Grahn have more, and Ralf also links to an excellent article in English about Stubb from Helsingin Sanomat.

Veteran eurosceptic Jens Peter Bonde is also leaving the Parliament – retiring symbolically on Europe Day this year. Bonde seemed to mellow a bit with time in the EP, yet his jovial manner and probing critique of the EU had to be heard and analysed. I fear the shrill voices of British euroscepticism will instead dominate.

Both of these MEPs were also in their way pioneers in the use of the internet for politics – Stubb’s site in 5 languages is the standard all other MEPs had to aspire to, and Bonde’s site is diverse and comprehensive.


  1. Indeed, Stubb will cause the European parliament to lose some colour. But on the other hand, he will liven up a sometimes somewhat grey Finnish government as an unusually media-aware politician. He will probably have to tone down his outspoken ways though in order to be able to fit in with the government and president’s foreign policy, which might make him frustrated – so then, perhaps you are right, a return to Brussels might seem very attractive for him.

  2. I agree with you Jon. It’s not only a terrible loss for the EP but also for the EU blogosphere. Let’s hope he will carry on bloggin.

  3. Jon,

    I share your sentiment. Stubb would be an asset anywhere, so his party made an excellent choice, but if we want to speculate I guess that the present Finnish Commission member Olli Rehn (enlargement), would be keen to continue (and he is from the prime minister’s party).

    Although I think that Jens-Peter Bonde’s recipe for Europe is wrong, trying to re-nationalise democratic politics in an era of growing internationalisation and globalisation, I respect his dedicated work for more open and transparent EU institutions, including his repeated demands for consolidated versions of the Lisbon Treaty.

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