Speaking to British broadsheet The Times to promote a new edition of his autobiography (The Journey, Random House), Tony Blair called for an elected president of Europe to give Europe power on the world stage.
The ex-prime minister of Britain said that Europe suffers from a lack of “strong collective leadership”
The 58-year-old politician added that Britain needs to become part of Europe as the country is too small to have “weight and influence” in the world on its own.
Blair has long been a supporter of Europe and wanted to take Britain further into the EU. He believes the UK should ditch the British pound for the European currency, the euro.
Blair’s main argument for an elected president for Europe is that “Europe today is about power, not peace.” Young Europeans, he said, take it for granted that there is peace between European nations. (A comment that could one day come back to haunt him.) The task of Europe today, he said, is to project European power and influence. Without a united Europe, Blair argues that Europeans will certainly lose ground China, India and Brazil.
What young European voters today “understand completely” he said “is that in a world in which China is going to become the dominant power of the 21st century, it is sensible for Europe to combine together, to use its collective weight in order to achieve influence. And the rationale for Europe today therefore is about power, not peace.”
As well as calling for an elected European president, Blair also listed five areas where he believes the EU should have common policies. They are taxation, defence, immigration, energy and organised crime.
An elected EU president would have the largest mandate in the world since Europe has a voting constituency of 386 million voters.
The Conservative Foreign Secretary, William Hague, quickly responded to Blair’s comments by suggesting that Mr Blair may want to be a candidate for European president. Smiling, he said, “I can’t think who he had in mind!”
Hague added that elected presidents represent countries and the “the European Union is not a country.”
Currently the EU has an unelected president, chosen by the European Council and not by the people of Europe. He’s a Belgian chap called Herman Van Rompuy.
Never heard of him? Nor have most Europeans. Herman is yet another high-paid, low-profile EU bureaucrat, entirely unaccountable to European voters, with a role few Europeans are aware of. He seems to make very little impact on Europe or the wider world. Would he be in the job if European voters had had a voice? Highly unlikely since hardly anyone knows anything about him.
That, however, is not necessarily an argument for a US-style European president. Sorry, Tony. Nice try, but you may have to wait a bit longer for this job to fall into your lap. Still, it’s said that you’ve earned 15 million pounds since leaving Downing Street, from after-dinner speeches, book sales and other activities. So you don’t exactly need to become EU president just yet…