Business Briefs

The First President of the
European Council

Years of soul-searching and institutional introspection preceded the Lisbon Treaty’s coming into force. The new EU structure was expected to resolve the decade-long problem of “Who to call when wanting to speak with Europe?”. For candidates to pick up that imaginary EU phone, Lisbon created two new top jobs: a High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and a President of the European Council. While another brief in this series focuses on Europe's first High Representative, this paper zeros in on the first EU Council President. The election by the EU Heads of State and Government of the little-known Belgian Herman van Rompuy for that post generated surprise and skepticism. But when taking into account the lingering practical institutional challenges that have to be addressed, or when aiming for coordination rather than initiative, Van Rompuy could be considered a successful pick. This brief assesses how the EU came to his election and touches upon what is to be expected of the new EU Council President.

  • An Unclear Job Description
  • The Selection Process
  • The Politician Behind the Name
  • The Difficulties Behind the Job
  • Conclusion


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