EU’s new president promises more integrity

Janos Gal reports

European heads of state have chosen Herman van Rompuy to be the European Union’s first president after a state dinner.

Herman van Rompuy, Belgium’s prime minister will be the new president and Baroness Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for the United Kingdom will be the foreign secretary.

The president will be the most senior figure in the European Union and the foreign secretary will represent all member countries abroad.

Van Rompuy said  he will respect the diversity of the union and will work for a stronger and more united bloc.

He added: “I will listen carefully to everyone and I will make sure that our deliberations will turn into results for everyone.”

US President Barack Obama said the appointments would “strengthen the EU and enable it to be an even stronger partner to the United States”.

However, not everybody cheered at the idea of having an EU president. Gerard Batten, UKIP MEP for London said the appointment of a president only adds insult to injury.

He said: “It’s bad enough having the Lisbon Treaty rammed down our throats but a president from a nothing country telling us we shouldn’t exist? They are jackals biting the lion’s tail.” 

The post is being created under the Lisbon Treaty, which comes into effect on 1 December. The treaty is intended to make the EU bloc a stronger global force.

The European Union is a bloc of 27 nations. Up to now its presidency has been held by each member state in turn for six months, chairing and organizing Council meetings. 

The new president’s role will be more permanent and he will preside over the European Council’s meetings every six months and will call for special meetings if necessary, according to Reuters.

He will chair the EU Council, which brings together the heads of state or government of the 27 member states, has legislative and budgetary powers which it shares with the European Parliament, and is the main policy-making body.

The post comes with chauffer driven cars, a brand new £280m headquarter, an annual salary of £250.000 and a potential annual pension of 70% of his salary.