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Glenys Kinnock: Tony Blair is Government's candidate for new EU presidency
07-15-2009, 07:17 PM,
Glenys Kinnock: Tony Blair is Government's candidate for new EU presidency
Quote:Baroness Kinnock, the Europe minister, has given the clearest signal yet that the former Prime Minister is running, with British support, for the EU's top job.

"The UK government is supporting Tony Blair's candidature for president of the council," she said.

Asked if Mr Blair's candidacy for president of the Council of the EU, a position created by the Lisbon Treaty, had been confirmed, Baroness Kinnock repeated that he was the British choice.

"I am not saying there has been any formal confirmation or statement from Tony but it certainly is the government's position. I am sure they would not do it without asking him," she said.

Mr Blair is seen by key European leaders, including President Nicolas Sarkozy, as an international statesman who can help boost the EU's presence on the world stage as its official global representative.

"Blair is seen by many as someone who has the strength of character, the stature, people know who he is and he would be someone who would have this role and step into it with a lot of respect and I think would be generally welcomed," said Baroness Kinnock.

Mr Blair, currently working as international envoy to the Middle East haso never ruled himself out of the EU job but has stressed that the Lisbon Treaty must enter into force before a presidential contest can begin.

"As far as we are concerned nothing has changed. There is nothing to be a candidate for, the job does not exist," said a source close to Mr Blair.

The Lisbon Treaty, the successor to the EU constitution, is awaiting a second referendum in Ireland after Irish voters rejected it last year.

A British Government spokesman said: "The Irish have yet to hold their referendum on the treaty, and if and when the treaty enters into force, and if Mr Blair decides to run as a candidate as president, then Glenys Kinnock is quite right - he would have the Government's support."

Under the treaty, the current system of six-monthly EU presidencies rotated between 27 member countries will be replaced by a "President of the Council".

The new EU president will be a full-time Brussels official for his two-and-a-half year term, chosen by Europe's leaders but unelected by voters.

The job, would involve Mr Blair co-ordinating EU policy and brokering agreements between leaders of the 27 member states.

It is expected to carry a salary and perks package of at least £200,000 a year.

However, a spokesman for Tony Blair said: "There is no campaign. As we have said time and again on this, there is nothing to be a candidate for since the job doesn't actually exist."
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