Just looking through Nicolas Sarkozy's press conference in Brussels last week, this is reinforced.
Sarko describes Van Rompuy as “an extremely determined man who knows exactly where he's going, he's a perfect connoisseur of European politics.”
“I genuinely find that Herman's views reflect mine: he's a man who knows very precisely where he's going. And if people are criticizing him for not being determined and being too flexible, they risk having some rude surprises, some rude surprises. Don't confuse things, thinking that a tolerant man who's a bit reserved, perhaps a bit modest, can't have firm beliefs. So talk to those who know him well about them and you'll see. I'm going to tell you something: I think he's one of the strongest personalities around the Council table. Don't see that as in any way belittling the others.”
There are a couple of other telling quotes in there too.
Asked why Cathy Ashton got the job of EU Foreign Minister, Sarkozy is clear that this was about rewarding her for pushing the Lisbon Treaty through Parliament and seeing off calls for a referendum:
“Listen, really, this is important, she played an essential role in getting the Lisbon Treaty through the House of Lords, which wasn't nothing, you will agree. She is one of the British political figures – though it's in no way up to me to judge – who most strongly promoted the Lisbon Treaty issue. I've also had occasion to express my gratitude to Gordon Brown for the responsibilities he shouldered, but right the way through the Lisbon process – and you know how fiercely it was discussed in the United Kingdom, it isn't a secret for anyone – she was constantly in favour of it, she supported him courageously. And, after all, we were very happy to find British political women and men to get it through when a section of the British political class was asking for a referendum, as you know as well as I do.”
Lastly, check out his tone here:
“remember Nice and look where we've got to now, the Irish had to be consulted twice, we had to have the presidential election in France to overcome the 'no', same thing in Holland. Then, in the space of a few weeks we had to choose a team; it's been done, without drama, without scandal, without fuss. It's done.”
Tsk - those pesky Irish getting it wrong eh - they "had to be" consulted twice.... !
Yeah, Sarko, just like last week's seamlessly smooth EU summit - what a success that was - not a total embarassment at all... not a monumental contradiction of everything you've been saying about making the EU more democratic, nooo...! A great success, no scandal or fuss at all, we're quite sure the citizens of Europe are all perfectly happy with the whole thing.