We are in the countdown of this European Union term. In a year we will have a new Parliament and a few months later a new Commission. Even the President of the European Council will leave. It is not a good time; there are too many people who are scrambling to look for a position, an exercise that, if it’s so common among hundreds of people (on a political level) and a few thousand (on the level of public officials) can do nothing but bring trouble.
And yet there are many important things to do: the multi-year budget, the agricultural policy reform, the banking union, the trade agreement with the US, safety regulations for motorcycles, and we could go on. These are urgent issues of paramount importance (motorcycles maybe somewhat less, but go tell that to the manufacturers and workers, who already face a market decline of 25% per year) and are not quite sure that those who have the responsibility have the “openness” needed to handle the negotiations.
José Manuel Barroso tried to run for a third time at the Commission. As much as he was one who certainly did not create problems for the government, no one even took him into consideration; his public announcement was not even discussed – neither in a positive or negative way. It passed with complete indifference, even in his own party – the European People’s Party (EPP), which is not good (for him). And that’s why he is looking for something to do afterward. In his country the appointments are assigned; he would have to wait too long to carve himself another position, hypothetically, as President of the Republic, and therefore he is looking for work at the United Nations (it is said) or in some other nice international organization. In order to do this however, it must not displease the US and the UK and this will always leave some doubt about his choices, particularly in the commercial bilateral agreement, with the States. For example, we didn’t quite understand the warnings he lounched of the threats of retaliation that would come from Washington if the video products had been kept out of the agreement. He is kept out and at least for now, Obama seems happy.
Herman van Rompuy is another who served the government well (on the other hand he works for them) and hopes for a good position. The head of state of his country, which is a monarchy, cannot do it. Then Belgium, like Portugal, is also small; there are no big roles to undertake. Recently there was a good position for Deputy Secretary at the OECD but another former Belgian Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, has seen fit to occupy it. So even HvR is looking farther, maybe even at NATO, where the candidature of Franco Frattini, officially presented by President Monti, has been pending for some time but the partners did not like him much, so they quickly extended the current Secretary General because they did not reach a consensus on the Italian. It is important for him to keep the US and GB happy as well.
In Parliament someone has already decided to nominate themselves to the national chambers, others -such as German liberals – don’t know where turn because their party dissipated in the last few years of alliance with Angela Merkel. Who could have a future is President Martin Schulz, who the European left nominated for President of the Commission. At the moment it is an informal candidacy; we need to see how the vote will swing (even in Germany) but at least there is one. Certainly if he is not elected, he too will be looking for a job.