The two top positions of the European Union, created by the Lisbon Treaty, have been filled. Herman Van Rompuy was appointed permanent President of the European Council and Baroness Catherine Ashton was appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.The Swedish presidency must be congratulated on not only achieving a satisfactory conclusion to the selection process, but also filling the gaps in the job descriptions left by the Treaty document They have ensured that, in particular, the post of president will not be the imperial one which was envisaged by the supporters of Tony Blair (as well as, one suspects, the French or Italians). We are fortunate that the revolving presidency terminated in Stockholm.
The appointment of Baroness Ashton is already being hailed in our media as a triumph for the United Kingdom. One hopes that this jingoistic reaction does not take the shine off what is actually a communitaire decision. During her time as Commissioner, she has earned the respect of MEPs across party and national boundaries. If anything, the cack-handed campaign by British ministers leading up to the election ran the risk of damaging her chances.
As Danny Alexander, MP, aide to Nick Clegg, said tonight, it was the right result for the wrong reasons.