The past weeks, speculations and even bets have been running high when it came to second-guessing the names of the holders of the top EU jobs. And this evening, after everything seemed to indicate a difficult dinner was going to take place during the Extraordinary Council Summit, with even a possible extension over the weekend to finalise negotiations, Twitter went alive with the news only moments after the start of the Council: Van Rompuy, President of the Council and Ashton, High Representative. This was soon confirmed on the Swedish Presidency site.
Reactions on Twitter went from despair to people being gobsmacked (and I spare you the “Baroness who?” questions). Being Belgian, I know the strengths and weaknesses of Van Rompuy reasonably well: he is a fine tactician and politician, he has a Buster Keaton type of humour as well as a somehow surprising fondness of haiku’s…and yes, he is anything but flamboyant! Moreover, he does have this tendency to “accept the duty bestowed upon him”, which makes you think he’s just been sentenced to a harsh punishment rather than promoted to a top function…he became Belgian PM seemingly dragging his feet and did the same line at his press conference this evening…I was not necessarily expecting cart wheels but stil…a bit of “yeepiyeah! Kids: I hope you’re watching: dad is an important man now!” would not have felt out of place.
As regards Ashton, I must humbly confess I have no clue what her track record is as a Commissioner (the FT wrote an article on her here) but she certainly seemed able to respond forcefully at her first press conference this evening. And that will be needed as, as Barroso stated in response to a journalist’s question quoting the famous Kissinger sentence “Who do I call for Europe?”: If Obama calls, it’s Ashton he should call…
So I will summarise this evening quoting a tweet by @julienfrisch: “That’s it. Earlier than expected. Worse than hoped. Unclearer than ever.”…or maybe not, let’s hope so!
And to show that many of us still felt inspired after the announcement, I encourage you to follow our “Twitpic” exchanges: my response in pictures http://twitpic.com/q5jcl to @hughbs: http://twitpic.com/q5fl1