Peter Hoskin

Behind the closed doors of Brussels

Behind the closed doors of Brussels
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Today's Times carries a cracking account of all the wheeling and dealing that went on during the EU jobs fair this week.  Here are some of the most striking points that I've culled from it:

i) Brown rejected advice from Mandelson and other ministers that he should try and secure one of the EU's financial roles for a British candidate.

ii) There are claims that Brown was "persuaded" into accepting the EU High Representative role for Britain by Europe's Socialist leaders along with José Manuel Barroso.

iii) There are also claims that Brown did a deal with the French to get Baroness Ashton appointed, by which a French MEP, Michel Barnier, would be appointed the Commissioner in charge of the internal market and financial services.  

iv) Geoff Hoon was Brown's first choice for the EU High Representative role.  Other European leaders were keen on David Miliband and Peter Mandelson.

v) Peter Mandelson was "tempted" by the job, but decided that his place was in Westminster.

vi) Brown has known for weeks that the Blair bid was finished.  Blair told Brown to stop pushing his cause a week ago. This morning, the Tories are getting angry about point iii), accusing Brown of selling out the City to France.  It's easy to understand their frustration.  The more that emerges about this process, the more imperfect and clandestine it seems.  If the EU ever expects the public to take these new roles seriously, then you suspect the selection procedure will have to become a whole lot more democratic.