“We are talking too much about the president and not enough about the high representative”

With Mary Robinson declaring herself out of the running, and Tony Blair undeclared but campaigning for the job, is John Bruton the first to officially throw his hat into the ring as a candidate for EU President President of the EU Council? At the Guardian, Tim Garton Ash warns that the figurehead president is not the post that matters most

To give Europe a stronger voice in the world also requires a machinery that does not yet exist. But it’s the responsibility of the new high representative for foreign and security policy, not the new president, to build up that machinery. Unlike the president, the high representative, who is simultaneously a vice-president of the European commission, will have a large budget and a large staff. He or she will have the difficult but vital task of melding officials and diplomats from two different European bureaucracies and 27 national ones into a single European foreign service, capable of identifying shared European interests and the instruments we possess to advance them. He or she, working with the president of the European commission, will also need to establish linkages to the real motors of the EU’s external power: enlargement policy, development aid, trade, regulation and competition policy. There’s the beef. We are talking too much about the president and not enough about the high representative.

Adds Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell thinks Bruton is “well worth a considerable flutter.”