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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thanks for coming

Those who worried that the Lisbon Treaty and the creation of a permanent EU president would sideline the rotating presidency held by national governments have been proved right. Spanish Daily El Mundo notes that during a speech in the European Parliament yesterday, neither President Herman Van Rompuy, nor President Barroso mentioned or thanked Spain’s EU Presidency for its role in last week’s European Council summit. It seems that even the fact that Van Rompuy sat next to Spaniard Diego Lopez Garrido (pictured on the left), the secretary of state for the EU, failed to remind the officials of Spain’s role. Barroso managed to find the time, however, to thank Catherine Ashton, the Parliament, the Commission, and the Council.

There are a number of potential reasons for the omission. The incident could be part of a larger EU effort to avoid any discussion of Spain, hoping people will forget it may be the next eurozone domino to fall. Or perhaps it demonstrates that the Brussels elite have little time for national governments or that there are simply so many presidencies within the EU that it's becoming difficult to remember them all.


Anonymous said...

Can you clarify what the role of the rotating presidency in the European Council is under the Lisbon Treaty?

I thought the rotating presidency has only a role to play in the Council, not in the European Council.

Open Europe blog team said...

Thanks Anonymous. You are right in pointing out that the rotating presidency has no formal role in the European Council Summit. The Treaty states:

“The European Council shall consist of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, together with its President (i.e. Van Rompuy) and the President of the Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy shall take part in its work”. (15(2) TEU)

However, Barosso did find the time to thank the Parliament, which has no formal role either.

The point we are trying to make is that while Van Rompuy and Barroso made the point of thanking the EU institutions, they made no mention of the Spanish Presidency. This, whether consciously or subconsciously, clearly was a symbolic point.

Although the Spanish Presidency played no formal role at the summit, it had, for example, prepared the meetings of EU finance ministers, whose agreement laid the foundations for much of what was agreed by EU leaders. Given that everyone else was thanked, this surely merited a mention?

Mark @ Israel said...

In my opinion, it was a part of the plan not to mention about Spain in order not to talk about what is happening. They are just probably avoiding the issue. I agree, if everyone was thanked, why shouldn't the Spanish Presidency be also thanked? It's something unusual.