"Figure it out and let us know."

Wednesday, 3. February 2010     0 comment(s)

One of the supposed purposes of the Lisbon treaty was to streamline the often convoluted decision making process of the European Union. This was particularly the case with foreign relations, hence the creation of the position that Catherine Ashton has now taken up: the ‘High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy’. But in dealing with important external partners Ashton has not been left to work on her own. Indeed many of her colleagues in leadership roles within the EU have been keen to lend a hand for high profile events; most notably when that hand was going to be shaken by ‘the leader of the free world’, President Obama.

There were reports already at the start of the year that the leaders of Europe were jockeying for the position as to who should be the first to greet the President as he stepped down from Air Force One to attend the EU-US Summit in May. Should it be President Zapatero of Spain, as holder of the rotating EU Presidency? Or, post-Lisbon, should it be Herman Van Rompuy – the new permanent president of the European Council? Or perhaps José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, and as such the holder of the EU’s purse strings? Or should it not be Ashton herself, as theoretically she is the person at the end of Henry Kissinger’s mythical phone line to Europe?

Well, now it appears that the arguments have been for nought as President Obama has just announced that unfortunately he’s a bit too busy to attend the summit himself. Perhaps the leaders of Europe should take the hint and as one US official puts it: “Figure it out and let us know.”

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