Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region
of Spain in the Spring for several weeks

'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Belgium assumes EU Presidency today for the next six months

Belgium has taken over the role of presidency of the EU today for the coming six months, replacing Spain in the role. Despite the fact that Belgium does not currently have a government, the country's caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme 'has dismissed any concern about Belgium's commitment to the EU presidency program, which he said enjoyed wide cross-party support' and is quoted as saying that his 'country's role as EU chair would be "more limited than in the past" anyway'. Make of this what you will.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is quoted as saying: "I am absolutely convinced that Belgium, which has always been at the centre of the European Union, will remain there." and "Even after the Presidency period, I am fully confident that Belgium has strong European belief."

A clue to Belgium's likely role is given in this quotation from Peter Becker, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), speaking to Deutsche Welle (whose article is linked to above): "It will be a very pro-European presidency."

The website of the Belgian EU Presidency is here (English language version - the website exists also in French, Dutch/Flemish and German). The Belgian presidency will be succeeded by that of Hungary (see also here), for the followinng six months after which Poland will hold the role for the second half of 2011.

However the Lisbon Treaty has changed many things - there is now the role of President of the European Council (currently held by Mr Herman Van Rompuy), held for a maximum of 5 years (in 2 two and a half year segments) - there is an 'explanatory' document here (in .pdf format), which you can find, if you know where to look, in the EU website here.

My views about the EU have been changing in recent times; I was formerly a committed 'Europhile' and still am to a large degree, but I have become considerably more sceptical about the long-term direction that is being charted. Whilst the Lisbon Treaty has changed many things, it has not changed the desire of individual nations to feel like they 'rule the roost', hence the continuance of the 6-month rotating 'Presidency', although with a reduced mandate. It strikes me that the whole institution of the EU is becoming increasingly unwieldy and difficult to understand for most ordinary citizens. One might be forgiven for believing that this last is precisely the aim of the EU bureaucrats who control it in practice; to baffle the 'peasants' with complexity.

Anyway, for good or ill, Belgium has the role of Presidency of the EU for the next six months.

2 comments:

  1. Despite the fact that Belgium does not currently have a government, the country's caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme 'has dismissed any concern about Belgium's commitment to the EU presidency program,

    Well of course - who needs to worry about trivialities like sovereignty when you're the EU?

    ReplyDelete

Welcome to my comment area. Whilst all comment is welcome you are requested to respect the views of others. To read full terms for use of this facility, please visit my 'Terms of Use' section, linked to under the 'About this Blog' heading at top right of the blog. Note added 12JUL2010 - All comments will now be pre-moderated before they appear in this blog; this is a measure to prevent 'spam' commenting, which has become frequent of late. Thank you.