i on europe


Brussels blog by some wire service journalists

EU leaders hand Van Rompuy 2nd term as president


BRUSSELS (AP) – Two and a half years ago, when European Union leaders were choosing the first president of the European Council, they faced a choice: Would they choose their leader or their clerk?

Would the post be filled by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a charismatic leader already welcome in the highest councils of government around the world? Or someone else?

In the end, the national leaders — unwilling, many analysts said, to be overshadowed — chose someone else: Herman Van Rompuy, who had served 11 months as prime minister of Belgium and was virtually unheard of outside the country.

On Thursday, at a summit meeting in Brussels, EU leaders appointed Van Rompuy to a second (and legally final) 2 1/2-year term as president of the European Council — their gathering of the 27 EU heads of government. If they chose a clerk, many EU-watchers say, they chose a good one — a skillful administrator willing to sublimate his own ego in favor of the greater good, a man with the intellectual and emotional intelligence needed to forge agreements in an institution where major decisions require unanimity.

And a man whose mild manner and mousy appearance meant he overshadowed no one. The appointment itself had to be unanimous.



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