European Union’s First President Elected
Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy was elected the very first permanent president of the European Union. He will assume the post on December 1, 2009 as mandated by the European Union Treaty of Lisbon. He will be chairing EU summits and coordinate meetings between the European governments.
Elected with him is British Baroness Catherine Margaret Ashton of Upholland as the first High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The appointments were met with mixed reactions. Both are considered little, low-key figures. Van Rompuy has been prime minister for less than a year and he assumed the post after King Albert II asked him to form a new government after the 2007-2008 Belgian Political Crisis. Ashton never held an elected office before.
US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy all welcomed the appointments.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been pursuing the EU President position but lost out his bid when current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown can’t find enough support for Blair.