Following the forthcoming European Elections next May, there will be three big jobs to be filled in the EU. The European Parties have agreed in accord with the provision of the Lisbon Treaty that they will each present a lead candidate to the European electorate. That based on the result the Council of Ministers (All 28 Prime Ministers) will nominate to the Parliament a candidate to fill the role of Commission President. Currently the EPP would appear set to maintain their position as the largest group within the Parliament so it would seem likely that their candidate who has yet to be selected will become the new Commission President. The Parliament will elect its own President, a position currently held by Martin Schultz who is the left’s candidate for the post of Commission President.

On the bases that, he is available and in the overall collegiality of European politics and assuming that the EPP get the Commission job,

Mr Schultz will again be elected as Parliament President. That leaves the President of the Council of Ministers. This is a relatively new position created midway during the current term of Parliament, whose then President resigned to take up the position.. While eligible for reappointment it is anticipated that he will not be available. This last Presidency may in fact be the most important in the short term to the entire community. The position taken by the UK to seek renegotiation of the EU treaties prior to holding a UK wide IN OUT referendum, is likely to be the big issue for all over the next two years. There is strong objection and resistance across the member states to concede to the demands the UK currently make. It is not in Ireland’s interest that the UK should leave the union. With our common interests we are better to have the UK in the EU. We can well do without the potential problems which her exit could create for us. Looking at the full picture it is in nobody’s interest for the Union to lose members. There may be a view that the expansion is too rapid or that there is an over centralisation of power in Brussels, but to start to dismantle the Union can only be a recipe for disaster for all the member states. So it seems Europe needs an experienced and skilful hand to assist it through this impending challenge. Someone who is trusted by all political groupings and member states is required. The Council has already set out what the qualifications their President should have. These are to be a former Prime Minister or President of the Parliament. Whoever it is must have patience, capacity charm and calmness.

Due to the political configuration of the Council of Ministers, it would help if this person was either a member of the EPP or held strong association with it. On that basis it seems that Ireland might have two candidates on offer. Mr. Bruton, the former FG Leader meets the requirement as a former Prime Minister. He has also represented the EU as its ambassador in Washington and has demonstrated in recent times a strong on going interest in the EU and is well versed in the UK dilemma. The other potential candidate is Pat Cox, who is a former President of the EU Parliament and was a member of the Liberal Group at that time. In recent years he has associated with FG here at home with that leadership promoting him as the FG candidate for the Presidency here in Ireland. Mr Cox is highly regarded in Europe. Mr Schultz when speaking previously, has said of Pat Cox that he was held in high repute, commanded respect for his record in foreign and domestic politics and that he held wide support across all political forces in the European Parliament. So Ireland may see one of its own elevated to the role of President of Europe.