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  Europe
Tony Blair Ready to Stand for EU Presidency “If the Job is Big Enough”
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
Tony Blair

As the European Leaders’ dream of a United States of Europe inches ever closer to reality, the time has come to start looking for a President. This post of President of the European Union will be created upon ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, drafted in 2007.

One of the early front runners for this post is Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister. However, he has said that he only wants the role if it carries weight, and he can “make a difference”, according to friends.

Mr Blair is currently a Middle East envoy, and combines this with business roles as a consultant for JP Morgan, the US investment bank, said to be worth £2.5 million-a-year, and as an advisor to the finance firm, Zurich, worth £2 million. On top of that, he earns £100,000 a time for speaking engagements.

Allies of Mr Blair have said that he would be prepared to give up his lucrative business interests for the presidency post, if it is seen as an important role where he can utilise the diplomatic and leadership skills gained from 10 years as the British Prime Minister. He will not run if countries like Belgium and Luxembourg get their way and the post is seen merely as someone to chair the Council of Ministers.

However, it should be noted that Mr Blair is not a shoe-in for the post. He already faces competition from Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg. Furthermore, it is said that Germany’s backing for Mr Blair is only lukewarm. According to a French diplomatic source, France and Germany are looking for a “rare bird”, who can combine being an efficient council chairman with being the EU’s voice to the outside world.

Mr Blair also faces opposition from the Conservative Party, with Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague going so far as to say that appointing Mr Blair would be seen as a hostile act. The tone of his remarks has irritated some EU countries who fear that should the Conservatives become the next British government, as many predict, they would pick apart existing treaties.



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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