European Council chief must strike balance

Nov. 27, 2009 at 11:35 AM
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BRUSSELS, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- European Council President-designate Herman Van Rompuy and the European Union's revolving presidency will be linked in several ways, observers said.

Van Rompuy, the center-right Belgian prime minister, begins his duties Jan. 1, as will Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who will take on the day-to-day running of the EU in all areas except foreign policy, the EUobserver reported Friday.

Draft rules for the council president, scheduled to be discussed Friday, would give Van Rompuy the power to call special summits of EU leaders, create meeting agendas, determine whether to hold a vote and decide whether EU summits should be opened outside of the organization, the EUobserver said.

How well the rules work now and in the future likely will come down to how well Van Rompuy and Zapatero get along and are willing to make the process work, the online publication said.

Zapatero has said he doesn't want Spain's views to be left hanging during his six month tenure and reportedly is planning how to lead discussions on EU plans for a new long-term economic strategy, up for discussion next year.

Van Rompuy said he believes all countries should benefit from any negotiations because any government losing face will be detrimental to EU discussions as a whole.

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