Europe needs a George Washington, says former French president
Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing said Europe must "invent its own George Washington" to lead the bloc
HAMBURG, Germany, February 21, 2008 - Former French president Valery
Giscard d'Estaing said Wednesday Europe must "invent its own George
Washington" to lead the bloc as the first EU president under the Lisbon reform
The mastermind of the failed EU constitution told the Ubersee-Club in
Hamburg, Germany, that a candidate of Washington's calibre was required to
fill the top job in the 27-member bloc.
"Europe must look for and invent its own George Washington," he said in
reference to the first president of the United States.
"Let's not fail and let's not disappoint the history of Europe in the
choice of the first president."
Former British prime minister Tony Blair's name was one of those bandied
around for the job of EU Council president even before EU leaders signed the
Lisbon treaty in December enshrining the new president's post.
Among the other possible candidates cited in Brussels' corridors are former
Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh
Rasmussen and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
The job will be up for grabs in 2009 if the bloc's 27 member states can
keep to their timetable and individually ratify the treaty over the next year.
The president's post, for a two-and-a-half-year term, would replace the
current system whereby each country assumes the rotating presidency for six
The EU president's post, which will be renewable once for any incumbent, is
aimed at providing a personal face for the sometimes faceless European