An item today in the leading political theory, and politics, blog Crooked Timber suggests that John Bruton will run for the ‘EU Presidency’, i.e the two and half year presidency of the European Council (council of minister of EU member states).
Bruton was Prime Minister of Ireland from 94 to 97s, and has served as Ambassador of the European Union to the United States. He was leader of Fine Gael, a centre-right party which sits with the largest political group in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party.
Why Bruton? The connection with the EPP is a good starting point. He is an ideal anti-Blair, a centre-right figure from a small member state. Blair’s candidature is not popular all over Europe, and the idea of a centre-right figure from a small country is the popular alternative. Fine Gael is not as Euro-federalist as most of the EPP, it sat with the British Conservatives in satellite group of the EPP before the British formed a new Euro=sceptic right group. it would therefore not be so easy for the UK to veto him, and presumably would be an advantage in other less federalist countries.
Blair is unpopular for various reasons: could be too dominant, and out of control, in a currently undefined position; did not take the UK into the Euro, did take the UK into the American invasion of Iraq using now discredited arguments; David Miliband (current UK foreign minister) is apparently a candidate (he denies it) to be High Representative for Foreign Affairs (which might turn out to be more important that the Presidency), and no one thinks two people from the same party in the same country could occupy two out of three of the senior posts in the EU (the other is President of the Commission).