Peter Hoskin

Mandelson downplays Van Rompuy and Ashton – and bigs up the EU’s financial influence

Mandelson downplays Van Rompuy and Ashton – and bigs up the EU's financial influence
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To my eyes, there's more than a little dose of mischief in Peter Mandelson's article for the FT today.  Discussing the recent EU jobs grab, he seems to suggest that the new economic and financial commissioners may have a more important role to play than either Herman Van Rompuy or Lady Ashton, the EU’s president and high representative, respectively:

"Some commentators felt that the EU’s choices for its new president and high representative for foreign affairs lacked this kind of continental ambition. Herman Van Rompuy and Lady Ashton will no doubt aim to prove them wrong.

But Europe’s dilemma is not just one of influence projection. Europe’s influence will inevitably be tied to its economic strength. Over the next decade Europe will have to meet the competitive challenge of the emerging economies, decarbonise its economies and create tens of millions of jobs. Fail in this and the identity and stature of the EU’s president and high representative will hardly matter...

...This makes the EU’s strategy for jobs and growth and the distribution of the big economic portfolios in the next European Commission critically important. It is why the UK will publish proposals for a new European growth strategy in December. The men and women that José Manuel Barroso, Commission president, appoints to key dossiers such as competition, the internal market and trade will carry much weight in defining the direction of EU policy."

Which couldn't be an attempt to rile the Tories – who recently accused Brown of selling out the City by backing the appointment of a French politician as the commissioner in charge of financial services and the internal market – could it?  Surely not.