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Van Rompuy, the new face of Europe

(BRUSSELS2) In the end, everything happened very quickly. Much faster than anything the commenters had previously written. The dinner of heads of state and government had not yet started when the first information was already coming out. The 27 had dubbed the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy, as the first permanent president of the European Summits, for two and a half years. And, more unexpectedly, they named the Briton, the Baroness Catherine Ashton – an unknown on the international scene -, as the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the EU. One man, one woman: parity was respected.

In fact, everything had been wrapped up a few hours before dinner.. The main European leaders met at the end of the afternoon in their respective parties: socialists for some, – Christian democrats for others. Then various “bilaterals” were organized, informally, between the heads of state and government to reach an agreement. As a result, the 27 had two hours to taste, without getting upset, a “forest composition flavored with white truffle” and a line-caught sea bass with grilled scales with sweet spices. Two hours devoted to setting the future rules of the “club” of heads of state and government with the future president.

The Belgian Van Rompuy, who will hold the presidency of the European Council for two and a half years, on the other hand, did not wait long to assert his personality. His determination and his humor appealed to diplomats and journalists alike. To a journalist's question: “Who should Obama call now? pointing to the 4 personalities around the table, he replied “Iwait for his call“. At the same time, careful and honest, he deflected the answer on Turkey's accession, for example, explaining that “my opinion doesn't count. I am here to promote compromise”.

The man conquers the press room. Nicolas Sarkozy had warned: “ I know him well. You will be surprised. He is one of the strongest personalities at the Council table. » Given the character's first performance, this is not false. Europe has a new face. This one is not a movie star. But he represents well what Europe can bring: political sense, respect for values ​​and humor. We could have doubts as to who, the President of the European Council or the High Representative, would be the main face of Europe abroad, given this first evening, it is undeniably Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council who took it away...

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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).

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