The nomination of Olli Rehn by Liberals for the EU Commission presidency stuck me with surprise. Yes, Mr. Rehn possesses stellar experience because of his key role as a Vice President in the Commission and Commissioner of Economic and Monetary Affairs and the euro, having previously been a Commissioner overseeing the EU’s enlargement among other EU posts. Oli Rehn’s forte lies in economics which his educational background attests to. While Olli Reign is no doubt a skilled and accomplished EU bureaucrat, he is not a leader. He can barely speak in front of a camera, at least not as a confident, bold authority.
In contrast we have Guy Verhofstadt who is a lawyer by training, a former Belgium Prime Minister, leader of the ALDE group of liberals within the EU Parliament and on the committee of Presidents within the EU Parliament. Verhofstadt is also Spinelli founder, who has written several manifestos and is clearly a visionary and speaks powerfully in front of a camera. Mr. Verhofstadt is born leader, which is what the EU needs going forward.
I have to ask what are the liberal thinking by nominating Olli Rehn? While no doubt he has made significant contributions to the European Union, he is not a leader. Rehn is a bureaucrat. With Rehn as Commission President it would be more of the same within the EU. The EU needs a leader at the helm and Verhofstadt would effectively lead.
The problem is that many within the Union cannot agree on the direction the Union should take. Neither can the member nations harmonize on who should have what say. The EU needs a leader who is going to direct the EU out of this gridlock. A man who possesses solid convictions and is not afraid to voice them, who is bold and can lead to EU to its next stage. Mr. Verhofstadt is the European Union’s best candidate. He is this man. This is clearly evident on this side of the Atlantic. Without a strong president the EU will remain in its quagmire and will inch forward when it should be taking leaps.
In the United States, a main argument in US politics is liberal versus conservative fiscal and social policy. In the EU, the debate is over the role of the nation state vs that of its government, i.e. EU Commission. Is it any wonder the EU cannot move forward effectively? The EU widened when it should have deepened, and this means the EU needed to solidify its direction in treaty form prior to enlarging. The proposed Fundamental Law revision attempts to achieve this, but has to work out its inconsistencies because it establishes law and government in some areas and leaves key areas of government up to the nation states. In addition the governmental structure needs further refinement.. Verhofstadt with his law background is the best candidate to work out these details and lead the EU to its place in history.
For more on the topic of the Fundamental law see my article Fundamental Flaws in the Fundamental Law