LONDON – The European Union appears to be capable of concentrating on only one problem at a time. This summer it is the question of who will succeed José-Manuel Barroso as President of the European Commission. British Prime Minister David Cameron has found himself fighting a rearguard action to try to block the appointment of the arch-federalist Luxembourger Jean-Claude Juncker.
The Commission presidency is no doubt an important job. The Commission retains a monopoly on proposing new legislation, the character of which is heavily influenced by the president. But new legislation is something of a luxury for Europe these days. Rather than contemplating exciting new directives on the desirable characteristics of, say, lawnmowers sold in the EU, Europe’s leaders must complete three urgent and interlinked tasks.