We’re gradually learning - the hard way - just what the EU Constitution has in store for us, and unguarded (alas unattributable) quotes here give the flavour. Note Bruno Waterfield’s description of the reality behind the EU Council which I have highlighted here. Few people realise that the real power rests with COREPER - the Committee of Permanent Represemtatives = national civil servants.
TELEGRAPH Blogs 24.4.08
Bruno Waterfield - in Brussels
The EU's silent struggle
Posted by Bruno Waterfield
There’s more about those behind-the-scenes talks about the new European Union President created by the Lisbon Treaty. The secret discussions are shaping up to be a power struggle for control of Europe.
Will Tony Blair be at the wheel?
You will not be in the driving seat.
During a June 19 summit of European heads of state and government the question of who will be the EU’s first president will trigger a race for supremacy in Brussels.(Now Blair is a Catholic he is well in the running- AF).
The new Lisbon EU Treaty, currently being ratified in Westminster, creates the powerful post of “President of Council” and a lesser job of “foreign minister” or High Representative.
Questions over the role of each job, its respective political clout and the resources it can command are seen as critical to shaping the EU’s future for the next 10 years or longer.
“Changes that enter into force with the Treaty are more far reaching than people think,” said a senior European government source.
But these are changes that will only become apparent after the new EU Treaty has been ratified, bypassing any possibility of public scrutiny or accountability for the decisions taken.
Europe’s new “President” will represent the Council of the EU, the Brussels institution that represents governments, or rather national civil servants, and runs Europe’s most powerful bureaucracy via a powerful committee of unelected “Permanent Representatives” and secretariat.
Questions over the new President’s role, the size of his political team, and who should control a new “European External Action Service” will provoke a ferocious power struggle.
The European Commission is deeply concerned that the new post and a foreign service will pull the orbit of power from EU to national bureaucrats and diplomats.
Some governments also fear that the new EU diplomatic corps will suck in national diplomats with a mission creep that could undermine national prerogatives and turf. “There are questions of where it is going institutionally, how big it is, to what extent national diplomats go in, or how they are seconded,” said another high-level European government source.
This is all important stuff. It is all being decided behind closed doors.
Tony Blair’s much-vaunted candidacy is seen as one that would consolidate an inter-governmental approach to the EU that dismays Federalists and defenders of the Commission’s powers.
If he takes the post, it will be a clear signal that the new President is to be a major international power player, a development regarded as being at the expense of other EU institutions.
More of a compromiser is Denmark’s leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen – he would still represent the same trend but would be a less triumphant statement.
EU officials are worried that a new President, especially if Mr Blair, will muscle the Commission out the lead during global climate change talks in Copenhagen next year.
Senior European government sources reckon that the names, and Mr Blair’s Presidential bid, will be the talk of the June EU summit – a gathering that will come just week after an Irish referendum on the new Treaty, which is the superstate constitution by another name - 98 per cent the same.
“In the corridors and on the margins we will be talking about names,” said one source. “The decision will come once we agree on the criteria and once we agree on the name. The criteria will probably only be decided upon after a deciding on the respective person.”
Only one thing is for sure. Europe’s public will be the last to know.