Let’s establish that:
- The post has become important. It had already gained importance slowly as Lady Ashton strived not to break anything, but the war in Ukraine and the downing of MH17 has upped the ante and the potential of the post.
- There’s a profound lack of solidarity and foreign policy direction within Europe. Many Italians seem to want to wish MH17 away; the degree to which Gazprom and other actors have ingratiated themselves in Italy ought to raise alarms. And it would be unthinkable for France to continue the Mistral-deal with Russia, the continuation of which could reinforce ruptures already present in the European fabric. The unthinkable has become reality more often recently though. The European Foreign Minister must act on European values, not on competing national self-interests.
- The disruptive nature of the Juncker triumph has created a gordian knot around the appointment of European Council members. When it used to be up to the national parliaments it still was a difficult dance but various recent events have conspired to make the creation of an effective and representative European Council a daunting task. If it needs a majority in the European Parliament plus an amen from the various capitals, one must wonder if we’ll ever have an effective European Council.
- Anyone close to the Kremlin is poisonous right now. And while Sikorski has been proven right, picking him is a signal to the Kremlin that many don’t want to send right now. What candidates remain who balance the need for realpolitik with the need for justice? The host country of the International Criminal Court can’t let 200 of its citizens be sacrificed on the altar of realpolitik, the EU response must seek real justice.
- MH17 seems to have reinvigorated Britain’s European interest. The focus has returned and with it a Britain with a clear strategic vision. Britain’s re-engagement with European security issues is extremely welcome and shows just how indispensable London is in the mix.