The High Rep is appointed by the European Council, acting by qualified majority. However as the person is also a Vice President of the European Commission, their nomination has to also be approved in the same way as the rest of the College of Commissioners. If 2014 works as 2009 did, the position of High Rep will probably be part of a package deal also involving the President of the European Commission, and President of the European Council.
So who are the likely candidates?
Alexander Stubb [Wikipedia]
Current position: Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade of Finland
Party politics: National Coalition Party (EPP)
Currently Europe Minister, and formerly Foreign Minister, Stubb is the rising star of Finnish international politics. A former MEP and expert on EU politics after his time as a Professor at the College of Europe, Stubb knows EU foreign affairs very well. He comes from a Eurozone country, and from the EPP, the EU’s biggest political force. His administrative competence would be welcome in comparison to the current incumbent, although his hyperactive honesty on social media might irritate some traditionalists.
Radek Sikorski [Wikipedia]
Current position: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
Party politics: Civic Platform (EPP)
A former journalist, and political refugee in the UK during the 1980s, Sikorski combines Thatcherite free-market conservatism and a determined commitment to EU integration. The thawing of Brussels-Warsaw relations in recent years owe a lot to him and his Prime Minister Donald Tusk. His party’s presence in the EPP, and Poland being one of the EU’s rising powers, may assist him, while his outspoken positions – not least his critique of the UK, and calls for Germany to be more assertive – would worry some.
Kristalina Georgieva [Wikipedia]
Current position: European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Party politics: not party-political
The surprise in the current European Commission, Georgieva has been determined and effective in the Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response role, just quietly getting on with the job while critique has been levelled at other Commissioners. Georgieva was previously employed in other international organisations – this separation from party politics could be an advantage, but would she be adequately respected by Member States’ foreign ministers? Her nationality might also count against her. Ashton has been low profile in the High Rep role since 2009, and while Georgieva would undoubtedly be more effective, would she be able to give the position a higher profile?
Frans Timmermans [Wikipedia]
Current position: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands
Party politics: PvdA (PES)
Mentioned in a previous post about possible PES candidates for President of the European Commission, Timmermans is currently foreign minister in Netherlands and could hence realistically perform the High Rep job in Brussels. Further, if as happened in 2009, a party political balance is sought for the top positions, the PES could once more end up with the High Rep position. Timmermans’s nationality and international experience would assist him.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier [Wikipedia]
Current position: Leader of the Opposition in the Bundestag, Germany
Party politics: SPD (PES)
The nearly man of German centre-left politics, and a former foreign minister in Berlin, Steinmeier would be a safe (if somewhat uninspiring) choice. His nomination would to a certain extent depend on the outcome of the 2013 Bundestag election, and what role – if any – the SPD would play after the election. The question would be whether Germany would seek a foreign policy portfolio in Brussels rather than something economic.
Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt would be a fascinating candidate, but does he want the position, and might his outspoken views over the years mean others would not want him? That is the reason he does not feature in the top five.
As ever, comments and additional suggestions are most welcome!
|Posts about EU top candidates 2014
President of the Commission: EPP, PES, Others | President of the European Council | High Rep for EU Foreign Policy
Image credits – all Creative Commons / Sharealike licensed
Frans Timmermans by United Nations – Geneva | Radosław Sikorski by misiek_beauchamp | Alexander Stubb by Estonian Foreign Ministry | Frank-Walter Steinmeier by SPD in Niedersachsen | Kristalina Georgieva by EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection