The recent European treaty is believed to have answered the question that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once posed: "If I want to call Europe, who I call?”. The truth is that we are still far from a clear answer. Questions still arise about the leaders of the European institutions and their role. Concerns intensified last year, when - almost anecdotal - after awarding the European Union Prize for peace, it took a few days to determine who it must be given to. After almost a week, they decided: three people, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Herman Van Rompuy President of the Council and the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, were to represent the EU at this event. A dilemma remains - to whom will they give the money received, which traditionally should have a charitable purpose. Finally, the Oslo speech was traditionally spoken on behalf of the EU, by Van Rompuy and Barroso.
Among the "innovations" of the Lisbon Treaty - suggested already during the failed experiment of a Constitutional Treaty - are the “birth” of the President of the European Council elected for a term of two and a half years, and the head of European diplomacy. These roles are now played by Herman van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton. However, the most visible and influential personality in the EU remains the European Commission President for little over another year: José Manuel Durão Barroso. The European Union's role on the international stage seems to not have entered into a booming scenario with the External Action Service on its own.
The EU Presidency, which changes every six months, has not left the same power in recent years to the states which rotated in this position, with the entry into force of the controversial Lisbon Treaty. Since 2009, the organization of the summits remained with the state holding the Presidency, but with the permanent President of the European Council it cannot be ignored that the importance of this has diminished.
For example, China's ambassador in Warsaw was recently asked by journalists who does the Chinese President call to discuss EU issues? Van Rompuy? Catherine Ashton? Barroso? He stated that "the EU is a very complex organization. However, it is important for us not who call, but to achieve the expected result. EU-China relations are set to all levels, so our communication is going very well. It doesn’t really matter who you call, as long as it is good for our bilateral contacts".
I could make a comparison with the United States: Europeans recognize the name of the U.S. president better than those of our European leader(s). I admire the Obama campaign and perhaps I envy the Americans for having a system in which those who have the power can fight for it. The 2014 European elections should provide "human faces" that people need for a real democratic vote, providing legitimacy to European leaders.
Dan LUCA / Brussels