Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
The European Union seems to have developed a habit of shooting itself in the foot.
The latest self-inflicted wound was an attack on Wednesday by a euro-sceptic British member of the European Parliament who dismissed Herman Van Rompuy, the new EU president, as a “damp rag” who had no legitimacy and threatened democracy.
The former Belgian prime minister sat just metres away in the assembly, fiddling awkwardly with his tie.
This unseemly scene followed an attack on EU leaders this week by Greek Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who is frustrated by the EU’s handling of his country’s debt crisis.
Three months ago, Herman van Rompuy might have struggled to be recognised on the streets of his native Belgium, let alone Paris or London. The bookish former prime minister, a fan of camping holidays and Haiku poetry, was nothing if not low-key; a studious consensus builder in the world of Belgian politics.
Three months on and Van Rompuy, 62, may not outwardly have changed much, but his title and the expectations surrounding him certainly have. In November he was chosen to be the first permanent president of the European Council, the body that represents the EU’s 27 leaders, and on Thursday he will host those heads of state and government at an economic summit in Brussels — the first such gathering he has chaired.