Carl Bildt - CC / Flickr
Carl Bildt - CC / Flickr

If the second referendum in Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon this autumn goes yes then the EU is going to have a new foreign policy chief from 2010. The Treaty of Lisbon creates the position of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, aka EU Foreign Minister, merging the current positions of High Representative for CFSP and External Relations Commissioner. So who is going to be in the running?

If it were only to be judged by the amount he puts himself about then Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister, would probably be a runner. He’s also in the limelight as Sweden currently has the rotating Presidency of the Council. Foreign Policy has a profile of Bildt, and the FT Brussels Blog has more on the power games about the appointment. Essentially the argument goes that Bildt is too outspoken to get the job – people are wary of him because he’s not an in-the-shadows character like Javier Solana. I’m no fan of Bildt from his record as Swedish PM but his experience in foreign affairs is vast and in a Europe controlled by right wing parties then better have a strong and knowledgeable person in the position than a dull technocrat.

Fischer Poster - CC / Flickr
Fischer Poster - CC / Flickr

The outstanding foreign affairs figure on the left who would make an excellent EU Foreign Minister would be former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. He’s been lacking a role since the end of Schröder’s red-green coalition yet, like Bildt, he’s a pugnacious and knowledgeable individual, someone who would be capable of giving the EU a real voice in foreign affairs.

So what hope that either of these individuals get appointed? Close to zero. Member states would sooner go for some dull technocrat as that makes their lives easy. There’s no way for public pressure to change it (a bloggers’ campaign for Bildt anyone? Not from me anyway) so don’t hold your breath waiting for a new and coherent EU foreign policy.


  1. How could a system of electing these people work? Your idea, Jon, of having real politics at an EU level seems to me right. People need to have a choice – and to see how that choice affects what the EU actually does.

    So how should we do it? Should both the Commission President and European Council President be elected? A bit confusing, perhaps. At least the President of the Commission in effect needs to be confirmed by the EP, though. So perhaps the priority is to elect the new Presidency post.

    How about this: at EP elections (or at the same time if you want to preserve strict separation of powers) each EP grouping puts forward a candidate for European Council President. All of Europe votes, and there’s one winner. That person then appoints the C’ion President and HiRep, subject to EP confirmation. Importantly, those names should be announced before the election so that we all know who is likely to get the posts before we vote.

  2. Declaration 6 of the Treaty of Lisbon treats the offices of President of the European Council, President of the Commission and High Representative as a package, insofar as “due account is to be taken of the need to respect the geographical and demographic diversity of the Union and its Member States”. (Nothing is said about politics or gender, by the way.)

    In addition, the Lisbon Treaty requires a number of implementing decisions, if it enters into force.

    The Swedish Council Presidency has made openness one of its main principles.

    Collecting these threads, shouldn’t the Swedish Council Presidency start publishing draft decisions, principles for open nominations and public debates about the merits of the candidates to appear?

  3. I’ll go for Joschka!

  4. It’s not so much ‘welcome to the camp’ as ‘have been part of the camp for years, but kind of forget he exists still!’

  5. Kosmopolito

    Welcome to the Joschka camp. 😉

    I actually talked to someone the other day who is regularly in contact with diplomats and when he realised I was German, the first thing he mentioned was the possibility of Fischer becoming EU Foreign minister. I was quite surprised as his name does not often come up these days (except in our blogs of course).

    So, you never know what is going on behind the scenes. And usually the favourites don’t make it in the end.

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