He is the current president of the European Union in the system which is about to be changed where the leader of each EU country takes it in turn to chair the meetings of one of the oddest groupings of power-crazed politicians ever to sit around the same table.
Mr Reinfeldt came to power as the leader of Sweden’s Moderate Party which sounds very nice and sensible even though it is really just another centre right political party trying hard not to upset the electorate by sounding too nasty about the Unions, the Welfare State or, indeed, Europe. He is not unlike Britain’s very own self-confessed moderate, David Cameron. Time will tell just how moderate these gentlemen really are.
At the moment, Mr. Reinfeldt is having a whale of a time having to broker the appointment of the new European jobs vaguely spelt out in the Lisbon Treaty.
We, us Europeans that is, are to have a new President, a new High Representative and a new Secretary-General. We, in England, were told that this was no big deal when it first came up. Not really worth having a referendum over because it was only a bit of office tidying up. The tune changed somewhat about this when it looked as if the European electorate might actually vote the whole thing out so we were then told how important it was for us all to pass the treaty which will give us a spanking new constitution.
As is often the case with World leaders, they got their own way and the treaty has been ratified and those same leaders are now having a field day working out who gets what. Mr. Reinfeldt will be the last rotating president of the EU and it is up to him to sort out everyone’s best interests – lucky old him.
It will be a bit like this:
If the President job is a big flashy one where a bully boy can go round the world deciding all sorts of initiatives on our behalf then the job would go to someone cocky and self-important like our own Tony Blair but if the job is to be a boring old chair of the European committee kind of thing then it would go to someone boring and unimpressive like Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime-minister of Luxembourg (where’s that you ask).
Similarly with the job of High Representative (where did that ghastly pompous title come from you might well wonder) who will be the European Union’s Foreign Secretary. If the President job goes to a pushy bastard then the HR job will be given to someone from a little country (somewhere we don’t know much about like Luxembourg, Finland or Austria) but if the President is a boring committee man then the High Representative has to be a cocky self- important type. Oh yes, and the General-Secretary, the only job that existed before, has to go to the current deputy General-Secretary, Pierre de Boissieu from France.
Why you ask, well don’t be silly, that is what all the leaders want and apparently Pierre is a very nice boy.
Pierre de Boissieu is the key to all the shuffling around in Brussels. Because he is French it means that the President and the High Representative cannot be French too otherwise welcome back Napoleon Bonaparte.
No, President Sarkozy of France will be happy if Pierre has that job as long as he can influence who gets the other ones.
Frau Angela Merkel of Germany too, apparently, is more than happy to have Pierre as General-Secretary, she doesn’t want a German in the others jobs either because she has stuck out for having one of her fellow countrymen, Herr Axel Weber, the current head of the Bundesbank, at the head of the European Central Bank where he can supervise the euro.
In an ideal World (ha ha ha), Germany, France and Britain would just sort all this out between themselves and that is what they have been trying to do of course. Annoyingly for Tony Blair, the British candidate for the cocky president job, he is really unpopular with all those countries which opposed his bully-boy tactics over the Iraq War.
He isn’t a candidate of course, this is European politics remember. It is just that the British government says it supports him and many of Tony’s “friends” say that he would be interested in the job if it was “big enough” for him. Some friends there, I think. They know just how modest their friend would be given a big job.
Britain would have liked to have been President no doubt but if they can’t get Tony then they want the President to be a boring guy like Jean-Claude Juncker so that there could be a pushy British High Representative. Someone who might have been chosen until he said he wasn’t going for it, is the present British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, the guy who really wants Gordon Brown’s job but isn’t quite brave enough to say it.
The other possibility, the unputdownable Peter Mandelson, the current Business Secretary and one man labour party saviour, also claims not to want the job.
So it looks like Britain, the mostly anti-European, pro-American, non-euro currencied former Imperial power, may, to its surprize not end up with any of the top jobs this time round. This is probably just as well as Britain is about to vote for a change of government and, “moderate” Conservative Party leader David Cameron is having enough problems at the moment keeping most of his Europe-hating supporters under control.
Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxembourg (where did you say that was?) has told us that he is “not a dwarf” so he might well end up as a cocky bastard after all.
He too is a “moderate” conservative who is the longest serving leader of any of the European countries (oh Luxembourg is in Europe, I see) and who may well fit the bill as the sensible, moderate but not dwarf-like chairman of the European Union.
Another lively character up for the Presidency is the “moderate” conservative Jan-Peter Balkenende, the apparently very nice Prime Minister of The Netherlands, a God fearing Protestant who you would never seen in Amsterdam’s red light district or in its many cannabis cafes.
The other nice “moderate” conservative Herman Van Rompuy, the haiku poetry writing Prime Minister of Belgium has only been Prime Minister for a year but, reluctant at first to take on the job of PM in a country which is dangerously divided, he has made, so they say, a good job of holding warring parties together – an ideal qualification for the European Union, I guess. Maybe, he is no dwarf either.
If we get a nice moderate conservative chairman-president of the European then we will get a wild-eyed socialist High Representative or so the moderates fear. Someone like Massimo D’Alema of Italy.
Signor D’Alemo, the highly literate Roman ex -prime minister is also a former Marxist and, so we are told, much more fun than most of those moderate conservatives. He could set a lot of balls rolling as he is just the sort of energetically cocky bastard that the European Union’s leaders are looking for – or are they?
So where do we fit in here? How do we get to have a say in all this power-broking? Well, we don’t of course. One thing all of those politicians seem to have in common is a profound distrust of what their electorate actually think about this new European Constitution. We will have just whoever they decide to appoint in a process that has not changed much since the days when democracy was just a silly idea in the minds of idealists.