Spanish EU presidency to highlight new top duo

1st December 2009, Comments 0 comments

Spain says they will aim to give ‘maximum visibility’ to the EU president and foreign policy chief when they hold the bloc’s rotating presidency on 1 January.

Madrid – Spain vowed Monday to give the low-key duo who will occupy the new posts of EU president and foreign policy chief "maximum visibility" when Madrid holds the bloc's rotating presidency next year.

"Our goal is to give maximum visibility to the president of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs so that the EU can speak effectively with one voice to the outside world," Diego Lopez Garrido, Spain's junior minister for EU affairs, said in a statement.

He added that one of the main priorities of the Spanish presidency of the European Union starting on 1 January would be to implement the Lisbon Treaty – aimed at streamlining the bloc's institutions – which comes into effect on Tuesday.

In a surprise move, the heads of the 27 EU nations earlier this month selected Belgium's Herman Van Rompuy, 62, to fill the post of the bloc's first full-time president and Britain's Catherine Ashton, 53, for the position of foreign policy chief. Both positions were created by the Lisbon Treaty.

Van Rompuy earned his reputation as a quiet negotiator at the head of a fractious Belgian coalition government while Ashton led on trade talks with China as the EU's trade commissioner.

But the selection of two little-known candidates to the key posts was seen by many observers as a sign that the bloc's more powerful members like Britain, France and Germany want to maintain their own roles on the international scene.

Garrido did not say how Spain, which enjoys wide influence in its former colonies in Latin America, would provide the duo with "maximum visibility".

AFP / Expatica

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