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Jobs For the Boys?

By In Vino Rimoribis. The surprise announcement that the former Commissioner Michel Barnier has been appointed special advisor for defence and security policy poses a few questions.

President Juncker said that “Michel Barnier has vast experience in the field of defence and security and is the right man to advise me and also the High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini on these important matters for the future of Europe”. Actually, Muchel Barnier has very little experience in the field of defence and security. He has never been a minister in either field. In fact his only partial experience would be as Foreign Minister in the French Government for the brief period of 12 months in 2004/5, not exactly what you might call current.

Furthermore, as defence and security are highly sensitive fields, any decision of importance would have been taken at the Presidential level in France rather than in the Ministry buildings of the Quai d’Orsay.

He is currently Vice-President of Juncker’s political group the European People’s Party (EPP). Barnier was a rival to Juncker in pursuit of a nomination by the EPP for Commission President. The power of the European Parliament’s centre-right seems to be increasing influential at the highest levels with the centre-left nominated foreign affairs boss Federica Mogherini now having to serve two masters.

One mitigating factor is that the position seems to be voluntary and thus unpaid. But it does mark an increase in French influence over the EU’s foreign and security policy without any Parliamentary oversight.

Or, is it just another sign that Jean-Claude Juncker’s presidential style is extremely hands-off and delegates responsibility to an extraordinary degree? But maybe that’s a tale for another day?

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