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Against the nomination of Tony Blair as "President of the European Union"

This petition was published by European Tribune on Feb 04, 2008

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.

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