Blog AnalysisEEAS High Representative

Looking for High Representative available, flexible, solid, experienced...

(BRUSSELS2) “Seeking High representative, available quickly, recognized personality but skillful diplomat, in excellent health ready to spend 40 hours per week on the plane minimum, speaking French and English (and German), fine connoisseur of world politics, having a former Minister of Foreign Affairs but also knowledgeable about the military, supporter of European Defense but Atlanticist or at least friend of the Americans, rather socialist but not too much, and if it's a woman it's perfect” In short, if it were necessary to write a classified ad for this position, drawing up the profile would not lack contradictions. And above all it would be very difficult to put one or two names behind this profile.

A difficult choice. Might as well find a President of the European Council is quite easy. There is no shortage of personalities who can play this role, each with a particular style: the Luxembourger Jean-Claude Juncker – if you want a faithful servant of Europe, coming from a small country -; the British Tony Blair – if we want a star of international brilliance even if today he is a little “burned” –; the Irish Mary Robinson – if we want a woman and a personality who sticks more to the idea of ​​human rights; or Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president, etc… On the other hand, finding the right person to occupy the position of future High Representative appears more difficult.

Commissioner... Because we forget, sometimes, the High Representative must above all be a commissioner, therefore be designated by his government... and accepted by the European Parliament. However, the European socialists repeated it on Thursday in Brussels, they want one of their own to “occupy the post of High Representative”. A choice considered logical and more or less supported by several members of the EPP. And people close to Sarkozy confirmed this logic.

…socialist, non-Latin. Thus, Nicolas Sarkozy's diplomatic advisor confirmed, Thursday, during an information point with the press the “socialist color of the next chief diplomat of the EU, thus describing the different “settings” (this is his term) which must govern the designation of the High Representative: “ It will need to obtain a majority according to the Lisbon Treaty. So the appointment of the high representative must take into account the need to have this majority. Barroso is from the EPP, follow my gaze, you will have to find a profile
more complementary than reductive, also ensure geographical balance, and male/female balance if possible. The fact of the large or small country balance matters less.
» As for the fact that he comes from a country which has not appointed a commissioner – “ there are seven I believe » – confirmed a French diplomat present – ​​this is not automatically a necessity. “ We can very well imagine that a consensus is reached on the name of a personality coming from another country, and that the latter considers that it is a great honor and can withdraw the name thus designated “, he explains. Incidentally, regarding France, he confirmed that even if the choice of Michel Barnier is not “yet official”, that is what the President will say. And that the latter had other aims for a position than that of High Representative.

Many names “eliminated”… Among the names commonly cited, many do not really meet the unspoken criteria that I have already spoken about (see We must start the debate on the High Representative: immediately!). Some names mentioned, such as Olli Rehn, the current enlargement commissioner, have the drawback of not having been foreign ministers. Other names cited which could be suitable – Benita Ferrero Waldner, Ursula Plassnik (Austria), Joshka Fischer (Germany), Moratinos (Spain) … – but do not appear in the Commission’s “play list”, and their government chose another representative in Brussels. Several valid candidates, such as Carl Bildt (EPP, Swedish), Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (EPP, Dutch), Michel Barnier (EPP, French), or Karel De Gucht (Belgian liberal) are “wrong” not to be socialists… Who is left then...


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).