( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Over the past 2 days, we’ve been pretty busy over at the European Tribune, launching a petition against the possible nomination of Tony Blair as Chairman of the European Council (or, as the job is likely to be known by the lazy media, “President of Europe”).
His name has been floated by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the campaign to support him seems to have picked up strength lately. As this is a prospect that fills us with dread, some eurotribbers have decided to take action and to launch a petition to make clear that citizens across Europe are opposed to such an idea.
This is where the amazing power of blog communities comes into play: thanks to uncoordinated volunteer effort, transparently happening over various threads on ET, a text was drafted, edited, translated into 11 other languages and a website (Stop Blair!) was set up literally overnight (thanks to linca). The effort was somehow picked up by a first paper (as it were, the Financial Times, my favourite source of material to comment upon on ET) and is now getting 50-100 signatures per hour.
The full text of the petition is below. And you can help!
There are a few simple things that you can do:
- you can actually sign the petition. This has no legal value, but a symbolic one. As long as you indicate your country of residence as provided in the form, we’ll be able to keep tallies of where people are from. We are trying to show that he is universally reviled and that he would be a dreadful choice to represent Europe internationally, bringing us shame and scorn, and your signatures will help there;
- if you don’t want to sign, please pass this link on to your friends in Europe, or to others that might be interested. If you know anybody in the traditional media, pass it on to them – any buzz we can get will be useful;
- you can simply come over to European Tribune to read more about Europe and international affairs from a European perspective. If you enjoy my texts here (sigh – wish I had the time to come more often) or on DailyKos, note that I write about more European stuff over there, and that we have a great multinational crew writing about very diverse topics – from a progressive bent. Come to read or to join the discussion – and support the emerging European netroots!
Now for the text of the petition – with many arguments that can heartily be supported by kossacks!
We, European citizens of all origins and of all political persuasions, wish to express our total opposition to the nomination of Tony Blair to the Presidency of the European Council.
The Treaty of Lisbon provides for the new post of President of the European Council, to be elected by the Council for a mandate, renewable once only, of two and a half years. Under the terms of the Treaty: “The President of the European Council shall chair it and drive forward its work” and “shall ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council”. Further, “The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy”.
The future President of the European Council will therefore have a key role in determining the policies of the European Union and its relations with the rest of the world. This first Council Presidency will also have a major symbolic weight for both citizens of the European Union and for the image of the Union in the rest of the world. In this perspective, we believe it is essential that the first president embodies the spirit and values of the European project.
For some time now, increasingly insistent news reports have made evident a wish, in some quarters, to see Tony Blair appointed the first President of the European Council. This appointment, were it to take place, would be in total contradiction with the values professed by the European project.
In violation of international law, Tony Blair committed his country to a war in Iraq that a large majority of European citizens opposed. This war has claimed hundreds of thousands of victims and displaced millions of refugees. It has been a major factor in today’s profound destabilisation of the Middle East, and has weakened world security. In order to lead his country into war, Mr Blair made systematic use of fabricated evidence and the manipulation of information. His role in the Iraq war would weigh heavily on the image of the Union in the world, should he in fact be named its president.
The steps taken by Tony Blair’s government, and his complicity with the Bush administration in the illegal programme of “extraordinary renditions”, have led to an unprecedented decline in civil liberties. This is in contradiction with the terms of the European Convention of Human Rights, which is an integral part of the treaty.
The European Charter of Fundamental Rights formalises the founding values of the European project and is one of the pillars of the new treaty. Tony Blair fought its inclusion in the Treaty of Lisbon, and eventually managed to secure an exemption for the UK.
Rather than move European integration forward, the former British Prime Minister set a series of so-called red lines during the Lisbon negotiations, with the intent of blocking any progress in social issues and tax harmonisation, as well as common defence and foreign policy.
Furthermore, it seems unthinkable that the first President of the European Council should be the former head of a government that kept its country out of two key elements of the construction of Europe: the Schengen area of free movement of people and the Euro zone.
At a time when one of the priorities of the European institutions is to reconnect with its citizens, we believe it is essential that the President of the European Council should be a person with whom a majority of citizens can identify, rather than one rejected by a majority. Therefore, we declare our total opposition to this nomination.
The current press coverage:
The Economist, 06/02/2008
De Morgen, 06/02/2008
De Tijd, 06/02/2008
Daily Telegraph, 05/02/2008
Financial Times, 04/02/2008