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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The EU summit: not a complete mess, honest

The final countdown is on to the summit tomorrow that will decide who will be Europe's first permanent President and Foreign Minster, and the media is awash with speculation on the various candidates.

Looking at all the hoo-ha it is entirely possible that the decision making could drag on until Friday, or even the weekend if the Swedish EU Presidency fails to hammer out a consensus. The Times quotes Cecilia Malmström, Sweden's Europe Minister, saying, "I would not say it is a complete mess, but there is no agreement still."

Presumably the revelation that the front-runner for the job, Belgian PM Herman Van Rompuy, is a groaning EU federalist and champion of direct EU taxation might have gone some way to dampening his star - (although we won't hold our breath).

With so much secrecy surrounding the process (who's a candidate, who isn't?) and the inevitable horse-trading that goes with any move to hand out plum EU jobs like these, it's really difficult to predict what we're going to end up with. As Martin Winter from Sueddeutsche Zeitung said on the Today programme this morning: "It's the first time in ten years that I have no idea what's going to come out of this summit."

All this is an absurd illustration of how out of touch and anti-democratic the EU now is. The EU President will simply be wheeled out at some point over the weekend, with the 500 million citizens he or she is meant to represent expected just to hang on and wait for the outcome.

To fill the time (and get some sense of what the hell is going on) you could do worse than a trip to the bookies for a flutter. We reckon Latvia's Vaira Vike-Freiberga is worth a pop at 25/1...

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