At least one EU top job for Central and Eastern Europe?

At the European Council we have seen the resistance of CEE countries who now are asking for one EU top job. Would you say they are right in doing it, or not and why? Read few comments.

Seán Hanley, Senior Lecturer in East European Politics, University College London

I guess my take would be that this is interesting as  the new CEE member states have not – as some previously expected – work as a very co-ordinated bloc on most issues since joining the Union in 2004/7, as their interests are generally rather diverse. And it t is perhaps telling that the key players here appear to be a Polish-Baltic  subgroup of CEE states with security and foreign policy concerns centring on Russia/Ukraine and the Eastern Neighbourhood.

I think they are right (or at least are not wrong) to act as they do – wrangling over Commission portfolios and posts like the High Rep between member states and coalitions of states are part and parcel of EU politics; and the current dispute is just a natural reflection of the Union’s shift to the East, which feeds in new membership states’ generally rather better understanding of the former USSR and the importance and potential of events around Ukraine into the EU system.

Having a Central or East European face in a top EU job, if it comes to pass,  would also send a concrete to the citizens in region that their countries have some real weight and influence in the Union, which is widely perceived as distant structure whose benefits to CEE  are abstract or non-existant.

Paul IvanResearch Assistant, Centre for European Policy Studies

I see their late insistence on getting an EU top job ‘for the region’ partially as a reaction to Italy’s insistence on Mogherini. I think that if the proposal for HR/VP wouldn’t have been so controversial, they might have not brought up that, at least not insist on it. That is of course speculation but it is my reading of how things developed.

I think it wouldn’t be bad to have one of the top jobs going to somebody from CEE. It would be a good signal for these countries, most of whom entered the EU 10 years ago so they’re not exactly ‘new’ members. But it shouldn’t be the beginning or end of things. More important to have qualified/good people.

Igor Merheim-EyreProgramme Coordinator, Global Europe Centre, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

The position of the Central and European states at the European Council meeting has highlighted two important points. Firstly, it shows that these countries have the ambition of becoming policy-shapers in the EU – and rightly so. We are speaking of a region that wants its various voices heard. These countries do not always speak with a single voice but rather, as with the visegrad countries, they create alliances on particular issues. Therefore, their overall objection to the Italian Foreign Minister Mogherini becoming the next EU foreign policy chief, and their resolve to have one post filled by a candidate from this region shows increasing levels of political maturity, and the desire to influence European politics rather than be influenced by it. After all, we have celebrated recently ten years of the 2004 enlargement, and 7 years from the 2007 enlargement. Therefore, to see or expect these states to still behave as simply novices is naiive and patronising. In the negotiations, the candidates considered for the top post came largely from the older Member States, and this was not right.

Secondly, although as with any job vacancy, a position should be filled by the best person for the job, European politics is also about consensus between different voices in Europe. In this sense, there is no reason why one of the three posts cannot be given to a candidate from the Central and Eastern region. The candidates put forward by them (be it the Polish Radek Sikorski or the Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva) have both behind them a lot of experience, and would be an asset to the Union as a whole. Although Sikorski’s critical stance towards Russia may not be acceptable for all, Georgieva has the potential to to create that consensus between the Member States, and secure a voice for the region. Even if they do not always share the same views, including a European approach in dealing with Russia, these countries should be represented in the top echelons of the Union, and a failure to do so would be a blow to European consensus-making. Recent events have shown that European politics is no longer simply decided in Rome or Berlin. Warsaw, Buchurest and Vilnius are also increasingly being heard. The EU has expanded significantly over the past decade and it is time to take note – Central and Eastern Europe no longer wants to simply take on policy, it wants to drive it, be at the heart of decision-making in a Europe they worked to hard to once again become a part of.

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