Posts tagged ‘European Council’

Pontificating on the Pontiff

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JUNE 22:  Prime Minister T...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It’s been amazing fun watching the UK media ruminate on the now seemingly receeding chances of Tony Blair being the first President of the European Council.

Firstly, there is some pleasure to be had in counting the number of times some hack in London gets all mixed up over what the job is. Will he be President of Europe, President of the European Council, President of the Council or President of the Council of Europe? Who knows? Does the UK media care? As an aside, all this confusion could form the basis for some bizarre studentesque drinking game. Every time a UK daily gets it wrong some kind of alcoholic forfeit would be administered. In any case all those reporting on this (or wishing to avoid alcohol abuse through sheer frustration) would be well advised to check out this post from NoseMonkey.

Secondly, is it me or did the UK media become obsessed with Tony Blair as President of the European Council? Even if they didn’t understand what it meant, that he hadn’t yet actually got the job or that with the exception of his successor (Gordon) no-one in the UK gets a vote on it. It was almost like the rest of Europe didn’t exist in this debate. The Brits seemed to take no account of the fact that many pretty well informed Europeans were wandering around Brussels saying ‘not on your life’ to Tony for a whole host of very valid reasons. No doubt whoever does get the job will be painted as an unknown and unelected bureaucrat – even if he happens to be the former Prime Minister of a European country who were founding members of the organisation the British begrudingly joined a couple of decades later.

Thirdly, even in Brussels one gets the sense that everyone is guessing. Ok, there’s some commonly accepted wisdom flying around the place. Front runners never get it. Small states prefer smaller men etc. etc. But really, other than a close cabral of PMs, Presidents and Chancellors, does anyone really know what’s going to happen? However, if your name is Angela and you do know, well, you could always leave a comment.

Finally, I know you’re going to tell me not to spoil everyone’s fun. The analysis of the runners and riders is likely to be far more interesting than what the new man/woman at the top will actually do at the end of the day. To show we’re not all spoilsports here at FH, here’s Nick Williams our MD of Public Affairs in London giving his thoughts on Tony Blair’s ‘covert’ campaign in PR Week this morning.

James

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November 2, 2009 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

Tony for President? But…but…but he’s British.

Lethal Weapon
Image via Wikipedia

There’s a scene in the second of the Lethal Weapon series of films where Murtagh (Danny Glover) and Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) create a fracas in the apartheid era South African consulate in Los Angeles so that Riggs (Mel Gibson) can gain entrance through another door. Joe Pesci asks the South African consular official to talk his friend (Danny Glover) out of  emigrating to the most beautiful country in the world. The official is confused. That is until Murtagh is introduced; at which point the official utters in disbelief “But…but…you’re blek”. Mayhem ensues as Glover’s character starts protesting against apartheid.

I was reminded of this scene this morning upon reading an Observer piece on whether Tony Blair should become the first President of the European Council. There are some good arguments in the article both for and against. (For the record I am for). However, it was the only non-British European quoted in the piece that caught my attention.   Pier Luigi Bersani, an Italian opposition politician, states the following against Tony Blair’s candidature:

“Tony Blair is a personality with a formidable reputation on the European stage who has always enjoyed a very good relationship with Italy. I have always admired him, despite differences over the war in Iraq. However, when it comes to considering him as a candidate for the European presidency, it needs to be underlined that the UK is not in the Schengen Agreement, nor part of the Euro zone and is therefore not central to the process of European integration. Blair is a splendid man but possibly not the right candidate for this job.”

For Bersani at least it would appear that Tony’s actions in the Iraq war, or indeed his stature as an undeniable political heavyweight, matter not a jot. Much as we all might want to debate them. To state the obvious, he’s simply the wrong nationality. It’s a bit like a Danny Glover’s character wanting to emigrate to 1980s South Africa. Until our relationship with Europe is sorted out once and for all, Britain is unlikely to get the top job.

Which leaves us with one question. While Tony is causing all this mayhem, who and where is Riggs?

James

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October 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm 6 comments

From one seat to one president – a new digital dawn in Brussels?

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Hats off to Brussels bloggers Jon Worth and Jan Seifert as they embark on a new Brussels digital campaign called “Who do I call?“.  Their aim is simple. They think that the Commission President and newly created President of the European Council should be the one and same person.

While we still remain to be convinced about the merits of the case,  we do admire the team’s online efforts. (Admittedly as some of us have yet to really think about it – this thinking usual happens when we should be relaxing).  You can support in a number of ways from a simple signing of their petition, signing up on Facebook, putting the banner on your site to translating their copy into another language. The choice is yours. For the first time we have seen in an EU based campaign, the guys are using many of the tools out there to take visitors through all of the stages of online activist engagement, with the exception of getting people to take their activity offline…

Online activism

As Jon readily admits, the challenge will be to see whether their own (formidable) online and offline networks will draw enough support to the campaign centre. Unlike the one seat campaign and the 1million4disability, they do not currently have the kind of ready made organisational support of traditional NGO grassroots campaigns. It’s an interestingly experiment to see whether a European campaign can start online and migrate offline as attention builds. Clearly however, the team is already using its online contacts to spread the word and is actively looking at networks they are already part of to join the cause (hence this blog post). More posts in Facebook groups and a guest appearance on Blogactiv’s ideas page are perhaps in order in the coming days.

BTW – it’s great to see best practice blogger relations techniques being used here in Brussels. It’s just a pity that this time around we are the subject of the blogger relations, rather than the ones undertaking it!

March 3, 2008 at 8:01 pm 4 comments


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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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