This week, the EPP Election Congress will be held in the Conference Centre here in Dublin. Here they will select their front runner for the position of Commission President. The leading contenders are former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, French EU Commissioner, Michel Barnier and former Latvian Premier, Valdis Dombrovskis. The winner of this contest is likely to become Commission President as the EPP is the dominant party across Europe.
Whoever becomes President here will have a lot to deal with. The events of the last couple of weeks in the Ukraine raise the whole question of an EU foreign policy. Does one exist and if not should there be one?
The British politician Lady Ashton, was appointed as the High Representative of the Commission, responsible for Foreign Affairs and Security, following the passing of the Lisbon Treaty. On her appointment, most held out little hope that she could make the EU a respected player on the world stage. She turned out to be an effective negotiator in the many difficult situations which have dominated the world stage in recent years. So much so that the U.S. House of Representatives have made her a joint nominate for the Nobel Peace prize for her work with Serbia and Kosovo in improving the relationship between both. In recent weeks, her attention is taken up with Ukraine and the complexity of problems which it has thrown up. It is anticipated that the Labour Peer will not have her appointment renewed after the elections. Perhaps it should be, to allow continuity in this emerging office. She has had a very short time since her appointment, to forge a cohesive position for Europe on the world stage and to position it as a serious player in international affairs.
The twenty eight countries which the union is comprised of are very different in many ways. If the EU is to become a main player in the field of foreign affairs, it must not only have a common policy which all the states support, it must also have an experienced capable politician to front for it in difficult situations.