On Monday 10th December, Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso and Martin Schulz went to Oslo (Norway) to receive the Nobel Prize awarded to the European Union (EU).
In addition to the Presidents of the main EU political institutions, some Heads of State and government attended the ceremony as well, such as François Hollande (French President), Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) or Elio di Rupo (Belgian PM). David Cameron (UK Prime minister) or Vaclav Klaus (Czech Republic president) did not come.
A lot of people wondered about the opportunity of such a delegation: three people to receive a Nobel. French blogger and correspondent in Brussels Jean Quatremer even denounced such a choice, considering it was not serious and showed once again the failure of the Lisbon Treaty, regarding the diplomatic representation issue.
Indeed, the presence of such a delegation gives a clear indication of the state of mind and functioning of the EU at a moment when it should be concrete and simple. Thus, the creation of the European Council’s permanent President in December 2009 was to bring to the EU this diplomatic representation, a famous face, a symbol of European people and European institutions. It is not the case for the moment and Herman Van Rompuy, despites his probity and his seriousness, should be blamed for not assuming his role and being authoritarian enough vis-à-vis the heads of State and government and also his homologues of the Commission and the Parliament. To be clear, the former Belgian PM only stays in the framework of his mandate and it is the same for José Manuel Barroso and Martin Schulz, to the great displeasure of some people.
Staying within their respective prerogatives, Barroso, Schulz and Van Rompuy only stick to the EU Treaties, reflecting the current functioning of the EU and its decision-making process in which there remains a balance or, rather, a non-aggression “pact” between the institutions (and their three representatives, more precisely), in order for each of them to be taken into consideration and respected, in media matters. Such a solution may be partially explained by the fact that none of the three presidents wanted to take all the credit for him when it comes about communicating on Europe outside the framework of their functions and their policies, thereby letting a free hand to Member States leaders when it is about to really inform on European integration and policies.
The presence of the three presidents and a part of the EU heads of State and governments is the logic (and voluntary) consequence of a real lack of communication strategy in which there would be only one person, one EU representative identified by all the citizens. This objective is not unrealistic but seems too ambitious for the moment due to the complexity of the EU decision-making process and the personal sensitiveness and susceptibilities of our rulers. Indeed, it would have been difficult to justify a choice and not another (all members of the delegation have some legitimacy). This maybe explains this heteroclite delegation in Oslo: a genuine disorder which symbolises the charm and the visual identity of EU and which, paradoxically, never prevented her from going forward.