Where is the Aristo-Cat (yet again)?
You know: I’m all for discrete diplomacy. It is a fundamental way of doing things when an issue is complexe, requires a bit of horse trading in a corridor or late-night negotiations with bad Chinese take-away and bundles of paper. In such a scenario, the less said, the better, until you reach a deal.
But diplomacy also requires panache to make the interest you represent shine in the limelight from time to time. A bit like climbing a mountain requires sweat and silent suffering but ends with firmly planting that flag at the top for the world to see.
I did not want to react after the lack of visible presence by Baroness Catherine Ashton during the Haïti events. I even constrained myself when she made her “I’m not a fireman or a nurse” remark when asked why she had not gone to Haïti. Hell, I didn’t even care that she went or not: I just wanted her to stand up and say “Europe cares and we’re doing something”. Forcefully. With whistles and bells. On YouTube, the press, the world, twitter, facebook, whatever. But: I thought: she’s new, let us give her time to settle.
Today, it’s Van Rompuy’s first European Council Summit. And guess who’s doing the statement (you can see it here): Barroso, as President of the European Commission; and Van Rompuy, as President of the Council…and that’s it. Now some will say this is done to respond to criticism that Europe does not have a single face, a single “Who do I call” recipient. Some will also point out that according to the Treaty, the European Council only comprises “Heads of State and government”: but since when is Barroso a Head of State? Moreover art 15 (3) of the Lisbon Treaty state states that “The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy participates in the meetings”…
I think it’s just disappointing, yet again. There is a thin line between discretion and dilution in the background: Baroness Catherine Ashton should watch out she does not cross it.
The only positive note in my eyes is the fact that the Spanish rotating Presidency did not appear, because I find that system of a permanent President and a rotating Member State Presidency the real source of confusion when looking at the EU from the outside!
But let me finish on a lighter tone by quoting the Walt Disney movie, “The Aristocats”, having decided that maybe “Aristo-Cat” was becoming a fitting nickname for the Baroness:
Berlioz the Kitten: We were just practicing biting and clawing.
Duchess: Aristocats do not practice biting and clawing, and things like that. It’s just horrible.
Toulouse the Orange Kitten: But someday, we might meet a tough alley cat.