Whoever steps into Europe’s new top job as President of the European Council will set the mold. If it is someone of worldwide renown, the presidency will immediately be established as a post of global importance. But if its first occupant is not a household name, the presidency will be doomed as just another of the European Union’s confusing plethora of worthy senior positions that are neither valued nor understood outside Brussels.
The key point here is that Europe won’t be able to upgrade the job later. If the presidency goes to a politician who lacks fame and charisma, its place will forever be low down in the international pecking order.
Of the half-dozen candidates to become “Europe’s President,” only Tony Blair needs no introduction anywhere. All the other names in the ring have to be accompanied by a description – the former Finnish this or Austrian that.
Nobody knows whether the current prime ministers of the EU’s 27 member countries will choose Blair. There is considerable lingering ill will over his role in the invasion of Iraq, and there is the inconvenient fact that he is from Euro-skeptic Britain, and that many on the left view him as a leader whose “third way” was a betrayal of socialism.