The race to become the next President of the European Commission got interesting yesterday.
Well, maybe not that interesting, but the announcement by European Parliament President Pat Cox that he would not be seeking re-election as an Irish MEP in June is widely agreed to be a signal that he’s interested in the other Presidency.
As this Independent article discusses, Cox doesn’t appear to be any government’s first choice for the job, though that could be a benefit rather than a hindrance as first choices often fall at the first hurdle in the horse-trading that determines who’ll get the Presidency.
(An interesting sidebar to the discussion is that the UK may block Jacques Chirac’s preferred choice – Belgian PM Verhofstadt – allowing the Daily Express to recycle it’s ‘Britain Blocks The Belgian’ headline from when John Major vetoed Jean-Luc Dehaene in 1994)
But, the most interesting part of these negotiations is that the results of next month’s European Parliament elections could have a decisive effect on who’s up for the job and who’s not. If the EPP and ELDR have a combined majority in the Parliament they may be able to insist on the appointment of Cox as Commission President which, I think, may be one of the more interesting developments in EU politics of recent times, in that it’ll mean the Commission has a President who owes his job as much to the Parliament (of which he is a 15-year veteran) as he does the member governments.
Sit back and watch – this could get interesting.