FILLAY, A PHONE NUMBER

Le Monde, Apil 2008

“Europe is not short of leaders who want to show the way, but lacks an integrating face that can express its soul”. Dit schrijven Yves Mény, president van het European University Institute en Thieu Besselink, doctoraal onderzoeker aldaar. “The Lisbon Treaty foresees a president, but the character of the office remains unclear”.

After several years of blood, sweat and tears spilled on a treaty that could give Europe a backbone for the future, there is now an unexpected opportunity to give Europe a face. The European Council, where the leaders of all member states define the policies and strategies related to European integration, will choose a European President this year. Hitherto, the Council has been alternately chaired by one of its members, but since the accession of new (mostly small) states, the visibility of the position is rather low. Who knows the name of the present Chair of the Council? That is why the Lisbon Treaty foresees a president, but the character of the office remains unclear. He or she should bring ‘composure and continuity’ to the task of governing, as Dominik Hierlemann of the Bertelsmann Stiftung called it, but how can a new, strong European leadership be reconciled with the self-confident heads of state? Paradoxically rather than a strong statesman, it might be someone of strong character who will best fit the bill. Continue Reading →