UNITED KINGDOM

No thanks Tony, we don’t want you as president of Europe

Bristol, UK. Posted by 'Dr Dog' on flickr, 6 February 2006 When the idea of Tony Blair as president of the Council of Europe emerged, so did an online petition against the idea. launched the on Tuesday. Already signed by 3600 people, the whole blogosphere is talking about it. Here we publish commentary from Jérôme Guillet, one of the campaign's organisers, and the reaction of a British blogger specialised in European issues, for who Blair ‘would have been a good spokesman for the EU ten years ago'.

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Bristol, UK. Posted by 'Dr Dog' on flickr, 6 February 2006

When the idea of Tony Blair as president of the Council of Europe emerged, so did an online petition against the idea. The European Tribune blog launched the ‘Stop Blair' petition on Tuesday. Already signed by 3600 people, the whole blogosphere is talking about it. Here we publish commentary from Jérôme Guillet, one of the campaign's organisers, and the reaction of a British blogger specialised in European issues, for who Blair ‘would have been a good spokesman for the EU ten years ago'.

Thanks go to Carl Konigel, our Observer in Holland, who alerted us to the petition. See his blog.

“Allow Tony Blair to become the EU’s first permanent president and I’m very likely to turn anti-EU again”

Post by Clive Matthews, blogger on Nose Monkey / Europhobia.

Despite being supposedly very pro-EU, during his ten years in power Blair repeatedly failed to do anything to convince the country that being pro-EU is sensible - spending most of his time continuing John Major's "wait and see" approach, despite being in a significantly stronger position than Major ever was throughout his time as prime minister. Had Blair wanted to he could, with his huge Commons majority and the inexplicable love the country had for him during his first term or so, have used his extraordinarily strong position to have pushed the EU on the UK, or at the very least to try to convince the country that closer engagement is a good plan. Instead, he did nothing.

This lack of action continued even on the continent. During the UK's last (rotating) presidency of the EU, Blair was so invisible and uninvolved that one Minister of the European Parliament even put out a joke "Missing: The President of the European Union" press release. In fact, Blair's only real engagement with Brussels during his time in office was to try to use the EU to bypass Westminster and force laws upon us that he never would have been able to get past his own members of parliament.

On top of that, of course, so hated is Blair in the UK that to have him as the EU's official figurehead for (most likely) five years is merely going to further entrench British anti-EU feeling. Though he'd have been a good spokesman for the EU ten years ago, now he'd be like using Gary Glitter to advertise a primary school."

Commentary from Jérôme Guillet, one of the organisers of the ‘Stop Blair' campaign, and in charge of the participant blog the European Tribune.

We reject Blair as a candidate for the following reasons:

- 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.

- 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.

Blair says he's a Europhile, but he did nothing to advance the Union while he was head of state in the U.K. Like his predecessors, he didn't dare to stand up to British public opinion in order to be able to ratify principal EU agreements for the country. We decided to launch this campaign as soon as we heard the rumour that he was interested in the position. Although the decision won't be announced until the end of the year, it's now that nominations are placed. Therefore we want to put a stop on this idea before it's had chance to take off."