Continental boardgames

Friday, 27. November 2009     0 comment(s)
Aaretti Siitonen
Rules and names are in place, finally. The Lisbon Treaty is about to enter into force and the nominations near completion. The last hurdle before the new Commission can begin its work is for it to gain the approval of the European Parliament. This is not quite a given, as it wouldn’t be the first time that the Parliament forces a redraft of the Commission’s composition. The formal hearings are to be held in January, but the names in the top echelons of the EU are nevertheless unlikely to change dramatically after today.

2010 will thus see an EU that has struggled free of the time- and energy –consuming introspection on rules and rulers and instead, renewed, tackles the challenges ahead. Well, not quite. In truth, the allegory of the boardgame about to begin is more fitting. The rules have been agreed upon and the players have chosen their sides, but once the game actually begins, a new bout of negotiation and interpretation is unavoidable.

This was no doubt part of the logic of the low-key top nominations – the phase the EU is about to enter, institutionally, is one of consolidation, negotiation and solving practical questions of who does what. The most obvious example is the new External Action Service, the creation and organization of which will be fraught with delicate questions. A Council decision on the practicalities is expected in April and only after perhaps two years will a thorough status review be meaningful. Patience, rather than bluster, will be necessary. Likewise, the new Council President will have to find functioning equilibrium with the rotating Presidency, next to be held by Spain. Madrid is to be the stage for a great many potential misunderstandings.

Perhaps Olli Rehn receiving the Economic and financial affairs portfolio instead of the High Representative’s post is not such a bad deal after all. The weight of the portfolio may be disputed, but the contents of it are known.

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