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So, the 27 EU heads of government rejected Tony Blair's bid to be appointed as the first permanent President of the European Council. It was not a great surprise, given that Blair's warmongering in Iraq had caused division among the member states while he was UK Prime Minister. It was also feared that Blair as EU President would have brought with him his control-freak style, rather than the consensual approach which is required in order to represent the diverse interests of all nations in the European Union.
After weeks of lobbying and horse trading it took just a few hours for the government leaders to unanimously agree to designate the current Belgian PM, Herman Van Rompuy, whose appointment as EU President formally coincided with the date when the Treaty of Lisbon finally took effect, 1 December 2009.
More of a surprise was the chosen candidate for the other new post, the first EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security policy. Baroness Catherine Ashton, the current British nominee to the Commission, who had taken over as trade commissioner when Lord Mandelson departed Brussels, is to fill the post. She will also be vice-president of the European Commission. She will have to be confirmed in the post by the European Parliament, however, after hearings scheduled for January, at the same time as the other nominated members of the new Commission, which is expected to begin its mandate in February 2010. The selection of a couple of relatively unknown individuals for these new posts comes about because of the determination of the member states not to have their own powers, or leaders, overshadowed.
Speaking to the assembled media in Brussels, President Van Rompuy confirmed that he would seek to promote an EU in which each member state is adequately catered for. He said; "As Council President, I shall listen to everyone and ensure that our deliberations produce results for all. In practical terms, this means that I shall ensure the sensitivities and interests of each and every one are respected. Even if our unity is our force, our diversity is also our wealth. Without respect for our diversity, we shall never build our unity. This principle will always be uppermost in my mind".
The 27 governments are well aware that it is they who still hold the main levers of power, even under the newly enacted Treaty of Lisbon. It is time that Scotland too had the power to represent our own vital national interests in the European Union. That can only happen by winning Independence and I hope that we will soon be sitting in our rightful place at the top table.
The final working week of this year will be one in which Scotland has vital interests at stake. We will have the usual pre-Christmas pantomime in Brussels which is the Council of Fisheries Ministers, meeting to set quotas for 2010. This will be the third year in which an SNP Minister has attended, albeit sitting in the second row behind his UK counterpart who insists on keeping the lead role. Our fishing communities deserve better, but we must make the best of every opportunity to represent Scottish interests in these year-end talks. Simultaneously, in Copenhagen, world leaders meet to attempt to thrash out a deal on Climate Change. At the time of writing the UK government is still refusing to allow a Scottish Minister to participate in the official talks, in spite of the fact that our own Climate Change Act is world beating and an example which should be highlighted in Copenhagen.
With Independence Scotland's right to be represented at such gatherings would be automatic. Let us get on with campaigning to win!