Eurocracy is packing its bags for the “grand retour” and meanwhile the political masters are girding up to complete the business they left unfinished, writes Schadenfreude, our secret columnist in Brussels.
They have to find a new President for the European Council. This job used to rotate among the Member States but the Great(?) and the Good (??) decided that it would be more balanced to have a neutral leader. It is still an open question whether this change was an improvement. Most recently it has been troublesome to find a newcomer. The unofficial job description says he or she should have held high political office, should know their way around the Brussels complex but should not have a label to suggest that they have prejudices, a word which means fixed political opinions. The principal attribute is that the new President should be a fixer who can find points of convergence among the positions taken by the Heads of State and Government.
Plus: each leader has to persuade President Jean-Claude Juncker that the man or woman they are nominating to be a Member of the new European Commission should be given one of the heavyweight jobs rather than one of the sinecures. The expectation is that the nominee should already have a political reputation and some experience of the workings of the EU. The British, however, have used different criteria, which the European Parliament, which has to vote in the new Commission, has already criticised.
All this done and dusted, the European Union has to get down to the Reform (capital r) which everybody seems to want but which comes in different varieties. The British want to repatriate powers and make a new “balance of competences”, so far unspecified. They have won recognition that “ever closer union”, the hallowed doctrine, does not mean that all do the same thing at the same time. (Nothing new there -‘twas ever so). Others want the monetary union to work, which broadly means that Germany should stop being so markedly more successful than the rest.
Meanwhile the EU has characteristically nothing much to day about Israel and Hamas bombing each other, or about the fighting in the Ukraine, with its international consequences, especially in airspace. First things first.