Belgium's Prime Minister Named EU President

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister of Belgium Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister of Belgium (lucvanbraekel/flickr)

Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy, a relative unknown, will be the first permanent European Council President.

All 27 European Union leaders at a summit in Brussels eventually supported choosing Prime Minister van Rompuy to serve as the first EU President. Britain had initially wanted to install former prime minister Tony Blair, but conceded after it was clear his nomination was not viable. 

The BBC reports van Rompuy is generally seen as a politician who seeks consensus, but is relatively unknown and has limited foreign policy experience.

In addition to the president's post, the EU has also named British Baroness Catherine Ashton the Union's first Trade Commissioner.

The AP says the two new officials will work to give the EU more of a voice on global issues such as climate change, terrorism and trade, particularly as China, Brazil and India's prominence rise.

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