A Made Deal? — What Herb Thinks

Publicly, the issue is still open. What, or who, will lead the new, super European Union? But, behind those closed doors, I suspect a deal has already been made.

One reason I say this is because of a recent compromise proposal for a new, single EU president that has recently appeared in the Financial Times (Read about it here). At first glance, this idea appears to bridge the gap between the two opposing sides — those who want a stronger president in the Council of Ministers, and those who want a stronger president in the Commission. It proposes a single president over both agencies.

However, if you look a little closer, you will find what appears to be a compromise is in fact a victory for the Council. Why? Because this new, single EU president is to be appointed by national leaders who meet in the Council. In other words, the national leaders who meet in the Council would take control of the Commission also.

And another reason I believe a deal may have already been made is because, if you recall, this isn’t the first time this type of proposal has appeared. In fact, last May I posted a commentary about a similar proposal written by Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform. The reason this proposal was so interesting is to me is because the CER is a think tank that appears to always be promoting Javier Solana and his ideas.

Of course, this is just a proposal. And, the Convention on the Future of Europe hasn’t delivered its proposal yet which may, or may not, resemble this single president proposal that has appeared in the Financial Times.

There is, however, yet one more reason I suspect a deal has already been made. Next Tuesday, the two nations that started it all — France and Germany — will meet on the 40th anniversary of their nation’s friendship treaty. At this meeting, they are to create a joint paper to be delivered to the Convention that will be a compromise acceptable to both sides in this battle for control of the EU (Read about it here).

The interesting thing about this meeting is that France and Germany are said to be at the opposite ends of this debate — France is for a strong president in the Council, and Germany is for a strong president in the Commission.

Here’s my point: The only way these two major powers who are said to be on the opposite sides of this issue could soon deliver a joint paper to the Convention is if some kind of deal on the presidency has already been made.

And, I can’t help but wonder if that deal that has already been made behind those closed doors will resemble that plan for a single EU president that was first proposed by the CER, and now has appeared in the Financial Times.

Stay tuned!

— Herb Peters
1/9/03