The European Union is in the market for a new president, assuming the sweeping Lisbon Treaty is ratified, as expected. The role isn’t clearly defined, so the first elected EU head of state will set an important precedent for future presidents. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is an early favorite, though he has not yet publicly declared his candidacy. But is Blair the best-qualified person for the job?
Who else does Europe have? Consider the alternatives, says The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Blair might not be the perfect candidate, but he’s one of only a few “genuinely global figures” who would “require no introductions.” At least when Blair calls the United States, we’ll “bother to pick up the phone.”
“Haggling Over Who Should be President of the EU”
Blair’s election would be a step backward: Blair might be the best-known of the candidates, says Charles Clarke in Britain’s The Independent, but it’s hard to see how “crowd-stopping” recognition will be helpful if the EU can’t be “coherent and united” in its decision-making—hardly Blair’s strong point. In fact, Blair’s “presence would encourage the rerunning of past battles rather than enabling a new approach."
“Don’t Give Tony Blair the post of EU President”
Blair would bring global moral leadership: If Europe wants to do some good outside its borders, says John Hughes in The Christian Science Monitor, Blair would make its presidency a global “bully pulpit.” He’s never shied away from intervention, even for "a humanitarian crisis or gross oppression,” and despite the unpopularity of his support of the Iraq War, “he has become increasingly reflective and religious since leaving the British premiership.”
“EU Presidency would be a bully pulpit for Blair”
Britain needs to put its money where its mouth is: How can the EU choose Blair as its president when his fellow Brits won’t even drop the pound sterling for the euro? asks Quentin Letts in Forbes.com. Blair is “hardly a committed continentalist,” but even if he were, "should the new Europe not have, as its president, someone who is at least from the Eurozone?”
“Tony Blair: President of Europe?”