Belgium's Herman van Rompuy is widely tipped for the presidency
EU leaders have chosen the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy, as their new President.
Mr van Rompuy, 62, backed by France and Germany, has a reputation as a coalition builder, having steered the divided Belgian government out of a crisis.
He was the unanimous choice after the UK dropped its support for Tony Blair.
The job of foreign affairs supremo has gone to the EU Trade Commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton from the UK. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said her appointment "gives Britain a powerful voice within the Council".
Here is a selection of your comments.
Actually, I find it refreshing that the names are relatively unknown, and that the information on them shows them to be 'uneventful' in the main. This usually indicates someone who knuckles down to the job, mediates and tries to get the best solution all round. I'll take them any day over the obnoxious "charismatic" leaders of the popular vote who ride roughshod over law and sanity in the crusade to implement their own view, no matter how unverifiable or wrongheaded those views may be. True leadership isn't "I think this so make it happen", it's working out which of your people have the best ideas for a situation, and making sure they have sufficient support for those ideas to make the right changes. From that viewpoint, it seems like there may be good choices. As with all things, anything here is speculation. I'll be watching to see what happens from here on in, as the coming days are where the proof of the decision will be validated.
Rich James, Bristol
The appointment of these two political minnows reveals the true commitment European nations have towards the EU. Anything or anyone that can have a potential influence over national interests is to be challenged or avoided. How can European interests effectively be represented against those of India, China and the USA etc. with this approach?
Eric, Staffordshire, UK
Europe's gain but Belgium's loss! Europe will grow from strength to strength under the Presidency of Van Rompuy and Baroness Catherine Ashton. Unfortunately Belgium will go through difficult political pangs trying to find an acceptable Prime Minister. It will be back to square one as political parties try to pour more oil in the politically charged atmosphere. Van Rompuy calmed the waters but with his departure Belgium's future is in for a tempestuous ride. Hopefully sanity will prevail.
I am happy with the choice and I think it is step in the right direction. But if Europe is ever to become more democratic, it will have to head in the direction of a federal state with the member states losing more of their sovereignty - the exact thing the UK has always been against. At every step of the way, it has done its best to stop or slow down this process. If it hadn't, it would have had a lot more respect and weight in Europe today. And because Europe is quite diverse, the Flemish federal model is quite simple. All power should go down to the regional level to protect language, culture and flags too, unless it doesn't make sense at such a small scale. In that case, the powers should go to Europe, such as in matters of foreign policy. Test lab Belgium may be a mess, but at least we're slowly learning what works, and what doesn't.
As the old saying goes, name two famous Belgians. And don't include Hercule Poirot, he was a fictional character.
Stewart, Keighley Yorkshire
Being an expat that lives outside the EU - in a country that has decided via referendum twice now, not to join. I now understand why. What do these two individuals bring to the party? How will they help integrate Turkey and others? How will they influence US, Russian and Chinese policy towards Europe? Dissolve the EU and use the money they waste to find a cure for any number of debilitating diseases and feed the hungry.
To answer the main question, yes, the new EU President is a good choice until it is not. Mr van Rompuy will have a chance to bring Europe together and form an effective role for Europe in the world. If Europe becomes divided (19th century anyone?), then maybe he wasn't a good choice. Either way, it's a bit early to judge the choice when the choice has not yet made any judgements.
Kurt Wahlstrom, Minnesota, USA
The comments on here indicate to me how poorly the UK media have reported the situation. Van Rompuy understands what's needed to hold together a group as politically and culturally disparate as the Belgians; the EU should be easy meat for him.
What were we expecting movie stars US style? The last time Europe had a charismatic leader it was a dark time for the world. I don't think an institution as large as the EU can be democratic in any real sense. Democracy has to be small - you can't properly represent more than a few hundred people but power gets concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, as people pretend to represent millions of constituents really all they can represent is themselves.
Jim noble, London
You have to admire the Belgians. Through their neutrality they've managed to succeed where we've all failed and conquer Europe. Congratulations!
Dwayne Inglis, Innerleithen, UK
Henri Spaak (of Belgium) was a founding force for the EU, it's fitting that we have a Belgian as its first President (of the European Council) No ego trip here!
John Douglas, Eastbourne, E Sussex
Their selections demonstrate that, despite self-proclamations of being at the heart of a co-ordinated & universal EU, neither Germany nor France will accept their dominant positions being eroded. Best news thus far in terms of no Federal Europe.
It has been commented by other members of the forum that Van Rompuy will turn Europe into an "efficient and modern federal state" (notably by a Belgian). Whilst I'm not against Europe and enhanced trade and co-operation I wasn't allowed a vote on the Lisbon treaty, I wasn't allowed to vote for the President with the manifesto I wanted and I don't want a "Federal State of Europe". This simply implies that the elite are turning our sovereign state in a mere canton or region of a wider, undemocratic federal entity. Is this how democracy ended with gentle applause and a shrug of the shoulders?
Chris Wood, Wolverhampton
I remember listening to Tony Benn many years ago who said of democracy that it is not so much the voting in of people but having the mechanism to vote them out that is important. I have neither had the chance to vote them in or out.
Terry Martin, Hertford
Regardless of whether you believe Mr van Rompuy is a good choice, it is the manner in which he was chosen that leaves a bad taste. He is a compromise candidate, chosen through a series of private meetings and dinners. Does this strike anyone as a democratic and transparent way of appointing the nominal leader of 500 million people?
G Summers, London
Yesterday, no-one in the UK knew anything about Lady Ashton. Today, no-one in the world knows anything about her!
Nick Gotts, Aberdeen, Scotland
Typical choice by the EU, a career diplomat with a tendency for nationalism. Most people in the EU parliament would fit that bill to the letter. It is a choice which says that a federal Europe is now thoroughly a thing of the past. Unified Europe indeed. Poor choice for a poor union.
Richard Kolk, Belfast, Antrim
Throughout history, the most unlikely people are chosen to carry out difficult tasks. These people are no different; we need to support them in their tasks ahead, not criticise and hinder, not make political expedience or opportunity. Time will tell, we need unity as well as PR; unity first! Perhaps leadership once we are united. Tony Blair, not yet.
Mr Van Rompuy will, I believe, quietly and modestly put truth and justice at the forefront of EU negotiations; he will seek cooperation and partnership wherever he can find it. There is no self aggrandisement in this competent man. In short he will be everything that Tony Blair is not. The EU leaders, in not choosing Tony Blair have made the world a safer place.
Mike Stephenson, Foxup, North Yorkshire
It is already clear from the comments that many in Europe know who the new president is whilst many in UK don't. This is a sad indictment of the manner that UK media, especially TV, largely ignore what is going on in Europe. Instead of giving shed loads of air time to increasingly irrelevant Westminster politicians, perhaps the news producers should concentrate more on actual European politics. The BBC should be the lead in this and give perhaps 5 minutes per news program to actual European parliament events. Without enlightenment, only ignorance can flourish. I welcome the Belgian president to his new role but have serious objections to yet more British establishment figures getting senior positions.
They are good choices for Europe. Because they are nobodies who have been thrust into positions of absolute power they will be easy to manipulate. However, it also means that everyone should be worried because now we will not know the power behind the blue and gold throne really is.
Joshua Porteus, Oxford
These people may be dull and unknown but in this context that's a good thing. It hopefully will minimise turf wars and lead to Europe having a consensus voice. Blair would have been a disaster with his narcissistic personality and massive amounts of political baggage.
Colin Craig, Stratford
I think they are both excellent choices. Europe doesn't need a President in the style of USA, Russia or China as they are all single states. Europe is comprised of 27 separate countries and needs someone of Mr Van Rompuy's abilities to front it.
Alan Shedman, Stroud
The selection of Mr Van Rompuy and Baroness Ashton is an example of the standard international compromise, a combination of the lowest common denominator and political horse trading. Obviously, Baroness Ashton was the UK's price for dropping Tony Blair for President (not that I wanted him in that role anyway). It seems the vaulted Lisbon treaty is another way of saying business as usual and "the finger" to improved democracy.
Both are poor choices. Neither has the international heritage to move the EU to a higher level and bring all countries closer - this includes the UK. The foreign affairs minister is clearly a failing. No international credentials at all she will be a massive failure. But is this what the UK and France and Germany wanted...weak leaders, with control still in the hands of a few? It makes a mockery of the whole concept of a united Europe. A Europe where we are all at least using the same currency! This is why Europe will never be able to compete with Canada or the USA. Hopefully in two and a half years better people can be chosen.
Salik Rafiq, Blackburn
This is yet another bureaucratic appointment within the EU which is based upon the principle of consensus. The only outcome from such a system is mediocrity. The choice reflects the only candidate who does not upset any particular party involved rather than a choice that is in the true interest of the EU and its citizens. It purely represents the weakness of consensus government. A directly elected president of the council (not of the "EU" as often misquoted) would allow individuals to campaign for the position on a platform of furthering the interests of the EU and would produce the only democratic outcome; enhancing the reputation and stature of the EU domestically and internationally.
Herman Van Rompuy is a great choice. He didn't want to be Prime Minister in Belgium but, once appointed, he did a great job in bringing his divided country together in the midst of a serious economic crisis. Now, again, He didn't seek this job but if he can govern Belgium, Europe should be a "doddle".
Ludo De Bruyne, Folkestone
This is called exerting power by stealth. Over the centuries two nations have tried to dominate us, France and Germany. If someone from those countries was made president first time around their would be an outcry, so what do they do, they put in place two non-descripts, next time round it will be one from either of the two nations now calling the shots in Europe, France or Germany. A bit like the sale of our utilities, give the masses a little bite at the cherry to neutralise any resistance, the plan being eventually, the shares end up with the big shots as they wanted in the first place.
Toothpick Harry, North Wales
In Poland the election didn't even make the headlines and I doubt that anyone even heard of Herman van Rompuy. So it's hard to talk about democracy here but maybe it is a good thing that not too many people were involved.
Luke, Pleszew, Poland
I'm amazed by the number of British commentators who claim never to have heard of the Prime Minister of Belgium. Is the UK so cut off from the rest of the world that they don't know what's going on less that a half hour away by plane? Perhaps that's a good reason why Blair was not chosen to lead the EU.
Trisha Rose Jacobs, Aalst, Belgium - US Expat
I really admire the way the EU is run. There are standards to leave up to as a leader or member country. In Africa, the AU in particular can be run by a former rebel, a leader who is head of his tribe and leads his country in crashing other tribes and worse still, an AU chairman can come from a war-torn country. Congrats to the new EU leaders! Keep the organisation shinning and let's hope all other organisations learn from this strong block.
Jeff Kaira, Malawi
I can't help thinking the EU has missed a trick here, but that is not really a surprise. The choice of a leader from a small member state who the big member states will be able to manipulate for their own good contradicts the thinking that this decision will allow the small member states more of a voice. What positives are there? Mr van Rompuy will at least know his way around Brussels!
Craig, Geneva, Switzerland
I come from a newly joined country. I think this entire process was rushed and wasn't transparent enough. For me the President should have been a charismatic person someone known and present trough the entire union, someone people can relate too, someone to have something from the 27 countries. Herman van Rompey is far from any of that. He represents Belgium and has no qualities what so ever to represent the EU. The Baroness is just someone we never heard of, and if we never heard of her - how can she represent us abroad? I don't see how it is possible to be the voice of millions on other continents when those you represent have no idea who you are and especially when you as representative have no idea who they are. I strongly believe that it should have been our decision as citizens of the EU who our President is. This is just a shame for the Lisbon Treaty.
Cristian, Cluj, Romania
A President for the EU socialist state unelected by the people and not for the people. It didn't really matter who was given the position this is the start of a new dictatorship. We'll lose a lot of our freedoms and national sovereignty and be told how good it is. Funny how we just voted for a common market and this is what we get. In less that a generation we will have the same autonomy as the individual states in the USA.
Peter G, Norwich
The choice is perfect for the commission, which is where real power lies in the EU. A charismatic president would undoubtedly have challenged the commission's hegemony over the decision making processes that will shape the future evolution of the EU project. The appointment of this pair of non-entities will serve to distract attention from the fact that the commission is still firmly in charge, and they will no doubt be supportive and compliant servants of that body.
Ronald, Midlands, UK
Democracy is alive and kicking, somewhere outside the EU. Two seats of power representing our views and needs on the world stage without any input from the people they "represent". And our politicians cart their soap box around the world condemning other countries for their lack of democracy! It's a joke.
Adam Brown, Chester-le Street, England
Absolutely! Who wants powerful and charismatic EU leaders draining yet more power and influence from our domestic politicians who, for all their faults, are at least elected by us!!Weak and anonymous appointments means national PM's will still be able to protect national interest (well not Labour Party PM's but most others!)
Elliott Burton, London
What a shambles! And where was the choice? It is quite clear that France and Germany were not going to allow Tony Blair, a well-known politician with clout, to overshadow their positions. After this farce, more UK citizens will be voting UKIP, than ever before.
Personally I think the EU needed a big personality for the position of President. Now Lisbon has been approved and the institutional framework adjusted, the next (logical) step for the EU is to assert itself on the global scene as a superpower. This is a role Tony Blair, Merkel, or any big personality could have fulfilled. With this appointment the EU has not answered the Kissinger question, only placed a barrier in place before you get to the real people of influence.
I think that the Belgium PM is a good choice but anyone would have been better than Tony Blair, who so patently wanted it for his own personal gain and for no other reason. I am disappointed that an unelected, untried, non-entity peer from the UK should have been chosen to head up foreign policy. What has she ever achieved?
Mary Atherden, Newquay, UK
Coming from a fragmented country like Belgium, he is used to consensus building. If he can keep Belgium as one country he should have plenty of useful skills for keeping the EU cohesive.
Adrian Swall, Sheffield
The EU really needs the more streamlined and transparent decision making process that the Lisbon Treaty was designed to build and a full time President and "foreign minister" should help it to punch its weight in world affairs. What an ironic disappointment that this decision on the first appointments should be the perfect example of opacity and lack of ambition.
Hugh Mellor, Letchworth, UK
Rompuy of the Belgians is a good judge of character! He is exactly what Europe needs, whereas Baroness Ashton will be completely out of her depth. That job should have gone to a proper spy type character.
E Farrell, Kendal
I should start by explaining that I run a small business employing 54 people, and am generally very pro-Europe. However, I was really dismayed at these appointments. It is as though the European leaders got together with an aim to giving some ammunition to the Euro-sceptics. I have no faith in either of these people. The fact that the voter has no say is semi-understandable given the complexities of the whole thing, but Baroness Ashton was not even chosen to represent "us" at any level. It just feels very wrong.
Anon, Berkshire, UK
The main reason Rompuy is unknown to many Britons is because of their total ignorance of foreign politics. The man is actually good for the unstoppable EU machine, much better than greedy Blair anyway. Even before the EU whatever was happening on the continent had an impact on Britain, so keeping up to date and being informed is key to recognising and anticipating events and so tackling them in time rather than whinging and moaning when it's too late.
Ed Karten, London
However good Ashton is at the job is immaterial because she is not an elected official. Can you imagine dealing with Karzai and talking about democracy? I'd think he would be a bit suspicious - and rightly so.
It shows how sensitive the issue of controlling the influence of the creeping power of the EU. France and Germany don't want a US style multi-state system that overshadows the importance of individual powerful national players. Very wise in my view and of course the added benefit is that both Hague-ist anti-Europeans in the Tory party have had their guns spiked by this move and it also further marginalises the UKIP bunch. A good move on the part of Merkel and Sarkozy. Keep it up please, we'll adopt the Euro yet with any luck!
machiavelli, Cambridge UK
Baroness Ashton was/is the EU Trade Minister and as such is well known internationally. As the UK press ignore the EU unless it suits them to run an anti-EU story it is hardly surprising that she is not well known in the UK. The same applies to any EU politician. The President of the European Council is not a presidential post like the US President, despite the attempts by the UK Europhobes to characterise the job as such. It would have been better for the candidates to be short listed by the European Parliament before the final selection was made by the EU Council. That way the elected representatives would have input into the process. However the Europhobes complain about democratic deficit at the heart of Europe but are against given the EU Parliament more power. Weird is it not?
BrianB, Newcastle UK
At last a reasonable decision from the EU! In my view the best course has been chosen as if Tony Blair had been chosen it would have resulted in many problems if the Conservatives win the next election in the UK. Also Baroness Ashton actually does have much experience and I believe will prove a good choice!
Colin Hall, London England
I disagree with comments that van Rompuy is "a weak man". His history in Belgian politics has not been a forceful one, but nor has he been led by the nose. And I think comments about his being an unknown have more to do with regrettable international attitudes to Belgium than with any fault of his. I do think that a better choice could and should have been made, however. For all the talk of his being a consensus-builder, he has displayed some very unfortunate and distressing attitudes towards Islam. As for Baroness Ashton, she is a rather puzzling choice. It is difficult to predict how she will perform in the role. I suspect that she may have merely been the compromise given to Brown and his supporters in order for them to drop their push for Blair.
I have to laugh at the sheer number of comments from people saying they have never heard of these people. It used to be that to become a celebrity you had to be important. Now, it seems, the opposite applies and the world will only believe in a politician who is famous.
The leaders of France and Germany, in spite of pretending to push forward a federalist agenda, are terrified of losing influence to a more organised EU. These two unprincipled and weak people hae ensured that the President of the EU is an utter nonentity, totally incapable of dealing with the USA, China, or Russia. After all, if the EU doesn't take his position seriously, why should they?
Tom, Exeter, UK
Britain is losing its 'Great'ness by being part of Europe. We pump billions of taxpayers money, into the European Union, adding more layers of sleazy politicians, and getting stupid restrictive laws in return. It is the political equivalent of Eurovision. We now have a puppet president who's strings will be pulled by Germany and France, and we haven't had a say in any of it! Where's the democracy in that?
Michael Donnelly, Preston
Until the voters have a chance to vote more regularly for MP's in the UK and appointments in the EU there will not be real democracy. That is why voters are so disenchanted with the politicians in the UK and in the EU. There are simply too many posts filled by appointment making not by the approval of the voting public.
Allan Davies, Kings Cliffe UK
The choice of two unknowm, lacklustre, low profile, compromise, candidates for the top EU posts sums up the EU's lack of cohesion and dynamism. The only thing we can expect from the EU is mediocrity and that's what these choices symbolise.
I think Baroness Ashton will make an excellent High representative for the EU. She is a woman of great ability and experience and will be breath of fresh air into the dusty world of Brussels.
Stephen Deaves, Faversham
RIP Democracy! It does make me wonder why anyone is bothering to ask at this stage what the great unwashed think as no one asked us to vote on it. It is obvious we no longer have any say in how we are to be ruled.
Anne, Gt Yarmouth, Norfolk, England (or whatever EU District it is now)
We need a new word in the English dictionary - "Eurocracy" - a tendency to appointment your mates to top positions without consulting the people who pay their salaries because in reality they have no grassroots support and many were denied the right to vote on the very existence of the institutions they are leading"
Nick Britton, Cardiff
Anyone sponsored by France and Germany has to be treated with suspicion. These two countries still dominate Europe a Latvian President would have been better and more balanced to express objective views. Until the EU support democracy it will always be viewed negatively in the UK
Stephen Reimer, UK
Seeing how I didn't even get an opportunity to vote for either of these political "representatives" I don't think they are good choices. No democracy means no mandate and means they represent no-one but the faceless bureaucrats ruling the EU.
Considering how I didn't even get an opportunity to vote on this issue I completely reject them. I don't recognise them as a President or "Foreign Secretary". The non-democratic EU needs to be stood up to.
A man that few people have heard of and an unelected peer. This decision follows the bullying of Ireland into changing their 'no' vote and the rejection of what was rebranded as the Lisbon Treaty by the people of France and the Netherlands. Still, any choice is better than Blair
Derek, Maidstone, England
Baroness Catherine Ashton was probably the best person for the role. After all, she was unelected to anything in the UK so it makes perfect sense for her to be in another unelected role in Brussels.
Simon, Stockport, England
So we've got a foreign secretary with no experience of this kind of work before, only just over one year's experience in any kind of similar work, who happens to be of the Jewish faith, where the role requires interaction with the Muslim countries of the East. The Middle East may not want to deal with her because of religion. With these credentials she's not exactly a suitable candidate.
Firstly what a relief that Blair's private attempt to resurrect himself as God of Europe has failed and unlikely to ever happen if David Cameron wins the next election. On that I and the country can sleep easy. Can the Tories replace Ashton should the Conservatives win the General Election? Yet again like our most of our own present Government she is unelected and unwanted.
So one centre right and one centre left, and never the two will meet on equal terms. As we did not have a referendum on the Lisbon treaty (as promised), we do not actually have a say in who when and what happens in the EU. I understand Lady Ashton is another unelected person.
Rays a Larf, Portsmouth
Typical of the EU, no reference to the European electorate. In the case of Baroness Ashton, she was not even elected in the UK. The EU is a democratic black hole.
Ian Baildon, Bradford UK
Who are these people? We did not vote to join the EU and we did not vote for these people. How can they just elect complete unknowns and expect us to accept them?
Nick, Redhill UK
Seems to be the most suited for the job, and the fact that so few people in this country know about the new President speaks volumes about our "little England" mentality. When will we start behaving like a major European power and shape the Union, rather than sitting on the back seat moaning?
Sean Robertson, London
It does seem a little undemocratic to me - if it really is an important post, why aren't the public trusted with making the appointment? I do feel for Belgium, though - on the one hand you've got the pride that comes with having one of your nationals in "the top job". On the other hand, Belgium's best option for internal consensus has just gone - Flanders and Wallonia will be at each other's throats again!
Mark Harrison, Canterbury, UK
Wait and see. I see a lot of unconvinced people, but Mr van Rompuy's qualities will show very soon that things will move much better in Europe with someone who can bring consensus. Could Tony Blair have managed a government of five parties? Mr van Rompuy is more of a leader that you can imagine.
Funny use of the word 'choice' .There are over 400 million people in Europe and only a few dozen of us got any choice! We seek our democracy but alas the political elites deny us all the right of choosing whom should be 'Head of the European State! Did these fake saints and saviours make their choice after they ate their lavish pudding or did they quaff expensive brandy first?
Mickey Mouse would have been a better choice than Blair. Thank goodness Europe gave him the finger. That the choice underlines my views on why we should keep this European superstate at arms length.
The man "in charge" is a virtual unknown - didn't hear his name in the "G" meetings - is PM in a country with very little clout, and was voted in by a small clique rather than the general populous of Europe. He was put in place as a figurehead and scapegoat for wrong decisions. Someone who can be controlled and steered by the more powerful leaders. Yes, this European quango is nothing but an elite little club and even with the British unknown next to the top man, Britain will have little influence and will just get swallowed up into this farce. Please, please, please - when the people of the UK get their chance to vote next year, look at the parties stance on Europe and think.
Mark, Stevenage, UK
When will candidates to these positions be elected by Europe's public? When will Europe's public be able to replace them, if they wish, at a following election? Until this happens the EU is an undemocratic sham. I had no say in the matter, so these people are certainly not my President or Foreign Minister. How dare anyone claim that they are!
Peter, Cambridge, UK
I must be in a minority but I feel you need a strong personality when dealing with the rest of the world therefore Mr Blair would have been the best choice. Can you really see Mr Van Rompuy getting an invite from the US or China? The Foreign Minster Catherine Ashton is yet another inexperienced person who will be in the slow lane with the rest of the world. So no change in the EU and France and Germany (the real EU) get their way again!
Steve Grant, Ipswich
How can the election of anyone in Europe be satisfactory when it is made by anyone other than the people? We have completely abandoned the principles of democracy that we wage wars around the world to impose. I recognise no office or individual that I was not aloud to vote for and I never will.
Tober Reilly, U.K.
What a mockery the EU is. The Germans and French decide on who the candidates are before the others are allowed to choose the new president. Hardly surprising that the new president is relatively unknown. He will be easier for the Germans and French to control.
The two appointments clearly demonstrate that the real power in the EU remains elsewhere. These appointees, doubtless nice, honest persons of integrity, will simply become mouthpieces for policy generated by the behind the scenes, unaccountable brokers. Further, what I find utterly distasteful are the parroted eulogies from our political leaders present and past, Brown, Kinnock etc., for these two who received no mention prior to their appointments. Once again talking to us, the electorate, as though we are morons without minds of our own!
Michael Hey, Aberdeen, Scotland
Good to see a British person in one of the top jobs.
Laurence, Hemel Hempstead, UK
I think it is a wise choice in both appointments. Firstly, a charismatic appointment always proved to generate division and concerns so at least Mr Rompuy and Baroness Ashton will not have this burden upon them. Also, it is of dubious nature the extent of their powers and influence. In circumstances like this, given that it is a two and a half year appointment, it is always wise to appoint a low profile person in the beginning. After two and a half years, everyone will certainly know the extent of their powers and what they really can achieve and can choose either to re-elect them or to appoint someone with qualities (and more acumen) that will tie up with the job. At the moment, we can say that two relative unknown people have been appointed to two relative unknown EU Positions. It is the most adequate way to start.
Jomar Pires, Walton-on-Thames
What a great day for democracy! Mr van Rompuy will do whatever M. Sarkozy and Frau Merkel tells him to do, which once again begs the question: why on earth do we continue to bankroll this corrupt super-state? As for "Baroness" Ashton, the only reason I did not have to Google her to find out who she was is that I had to do that when she was appointed to replace Mandelson. The best thing you can say about either of these unelected non-entities is that they will play no meaningful role in representing the people of Europe. For that we should, I suppose, be grateful. I'd be even more grateful if someone could tell us, the people, how we remove these representatives if we don't like what they're doing in our name?
John S, London, England
I am very disappointed. Europe needs strong figures at the helm in order to turn around public opinion and make us count as a united world power instead of a bunch of frankly small players (Britain very much included). This is a small-minded and selfish move by EU "leaders" not wishing to be overshadowed and still believing that their small parts can be greater than the whole. Just wait until Merkel and Sarko are out of power and see if they still think there couldn't be a French or German EU president.
Mark Smith, Plymouth
Not only is this an affront to us in Britain who have been denied a referendum over Lisbon and thus this nonsense. It is also an affront to democracy itself. Who elected this woman? She is a labour placeman, appointed. Voted for by nobody. What an insult to those of us who actually believe in elective democracy. And on that basis - Van Rompuy can be called anything you like. He is no President of mine.
Elizabeth, St Albans England.
I'm just delighted that Teflon Tony was rejected. I'm not from either the Rabid Right or the Loony Left just prefer honesty to spin and the "celebrity" cult,
Tom Veitch, Melrose UK
It is difficult to see how two virtually unknown people can help the EU to gain more political clout on the world stage. Charming as Baroness Asthton may be she has not made any significant contribution so far in the UK so it is unlikely that this will alter on the wider political stage. These appointments have all the making of a co-ordinated political fudge and very little to do with advancing the European Community.
Norman Shaw, United Kingdom
Its nice to see democracy in action in the EU. Baroness Ashton has never been elected to any of her governmental roles, and sits at the top of the tree. People power indeed!
Chris, Milton Keynes
S Lazenby, St Athan, Barry Wales
Having never heard of either of them tho' their profiles suggest both appear studiously uninteresting and mediocre characters I have a strong feeling that in the long term they'll emerge as puppets.
J.Cowell, Braintree England
Weak names for a weak Europe... No wonder the US government is pleased. When will our politicians be ready to give up national power and pursue European interests?
They seem to want bureaucrats for bureaucratic jobs. These two hardly appear to be inspirational movers and shakers which might have enthused us all. The European wheels will no doubt keep grinding along at a snails pace.
Terry Hillier, Kingston-upon-Thames
Any stable political union must be both legitimate and effective. Its hard to see either of these qualities manifest in these two appointments. Its ironic that in an attempt to try and buy time for consolidation Europe by failing to attend to its political foundation may well precipitate something of a crises.
Michael Wood, London UK
They're the right people because they were elected from a consesus of our leaders. It reflects EU's commitment as a bloc.
Kevin Jason, Manchester,UK
For some reason I did not receive my ballot paper to vote for the new EU president. I am pretty sure that in the rest of the world including the USA, Russia and even Afghanistan presidents are voted for. Therefore in my eyes the president of Europe does not represent me as he was just elected by a bunch of cronies in Europe who I am not sure that I elected either. And come to think of it is Baroness Ashton elected either?
Dave James, Southam, England
The EU today is not as unified as the US in its processes and leadership. As long as EU politics are governed by intra-state politics (F, D, UK, etc.), any president will be a consensus figure, both in his appointment, his profile, and his job description. In that context, Herman Van Rompuy is an excellent choice. His soft skills will do wonders behind the scenes to align 27 voices towards a common vision. If anyone can build bridges and unification, it is him.
Stephane, Antwerp, Belgium
I didn't vote for this guy or any of the other candidates. My local MEP and the other candidates for his role didn't say who they would vote for as EU president when we were electing them. Many politicians around the EU have been criticising Russia for their lack of democracy but at least a substantial number of Russians actually voted for their president. Similarly, a substantial number of Americans voted for their president. However, 21st century European democracy means that the proletariat is too stupid to have any say in their governance. Well, it's not as if that approach has ever caused any problems in the past, is it?
Mr Rompuy is extremely sharp and astute; a very good listener who choses his words very carefully. He is not the type of person who would ruffle feathers. He is a born diplomat; thorough, considerate, capable and humane. He will give Europe the leadership and the impetus it needs. Europe has now got a very competent and experienced leader who will work splendidly with Baroness Ashton..
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
It's an interesting choice. It seems the EU wants to show the world that they dont want to play "individuals" but rather show that they want to move as a unit. Names did not influence their choice. I dont know anything about the new president but am curious to see what the EU will do through him
Kelvin, Lusaka, Zambia
I think Mr Rompuy is the right person for the job because of his unique way of handling crises. His appointment will help not just the EU states but Middle East and Africa which are really volatile at the moment. Mr Rompuy, the expectation is high and the whole world is counting on you. Good luck.
Ochegbudu Ahman, Abuja, Nigeria
The nominations are good. Congratulations to both Baroness Catherine Ashton and Mr Van Rompuy and also to the leaders of the nation states. They have chosen for a wise balanced approach. Because these are new functions the success will depend on how the job will be executed. Therefore we need pragmatic individuals and not prima donnas. For the president it would be worthwhile to consider making a deal with the Belgian King to rent his palace and hence save public money on a new office. Good luck to both nominees and you have my support.
Peter D., Warsaw, Poland
Interesting how may people judge about the newly appointed without knowing much about them, or even worse, because they don't know much about them. Both van Rompuy and Ashton seem to be professionals and can give us big positive surprise. It wouldn't be the first time that underdogs turn out to become excellent leaders. Just take a look at Angela Merkel.
Herman and the Baroness.....it sounds like a B film! Has everyone forgotten that Belgium was without a government for so long because of the mindset of Belgium politicians? A tiny country that is at risk of breaking in two because of their inability to gel as a single nation. Just what the people of the EU need right now!
Crystal Ball, Warsaw
Fairytale Europe opts for Snow White and a (political) dwarf. No prince out there to put the malicious and vainglorious step-parents into their place?
Yabanci Unsur, Istanbul, Turkey
I believe that both appointments are good for the EU. Mr Van Rompuy is no stranger to consensus politics and we can look forward to a positive, non-controversial front-man for the EU, who can follow through on the direction/s set by the member states. Baroness Ashton is a sound appointment in the Foreign Affairs arena where quiet diplomacy is far more important than grand-standing for the masses.
Dave Aspeling, The Hague, The Netherlands
Thank you, Owen, Malvern, Worcestershire, for your wise, rational, objective and, in my opinion, correct analysis of the current EU situation. At last someone from the UK who is able to see the benefits of Herman Van Rompuy as a low-profile president of the EU. Look at what the man has already achieved before you call his appointment a travesty.
Caroline, Waterloo, Belgium
I can't speak about Baroness Ashton because I don't know enough about her. I have no idea, for example, why or how she became a baroness. I have no idea what her roles in the labour party have been, nor whether or not she was implicated in the expenses scandal. My opinion of the current labour government, however, does not make me want to voice enthusiasm.
Jess Foreman, Paris, France
This is all rubish and for the benefit of the EU political class who has no relation to the ordinary citizens of the EU member states. Ashton, without any foreign policy experience becoming the head of EU foreign affairs department. What a bad joke. My cat is better qualified.
John Delaware, Warsaw
So they've nominated a couple of time servers to keep the seats warm until Sarkozy and Merkel are ready to take over? In any case, the appointment of two unknowns will do nothing for Europe - even though a lot of people despise him, Tony Blair would at least have brought international stature to the job.
Neville Collins, Paris, France
As a British citizen, living in Belgium, I can say, from my own experience, that Van Rompuy shall make a very good EU president. I have often watched him in the media and in the Belgium federal parliament. He 'is' a statesman and a gentleman, with a sharp brain. His recent role as the first minister in Belgium speaks for itself. Europe is in a safe pair of hands. I wish him every success, and wish that we British would be a little less narrow minded towards our European partners. We should remember that the bodies of many of our fellow countrymen still lie 'in Flander's fields', and of the historical connections between Britain and the Low Countries.
Dr. J.Gribbin, Westerlo, Belgium
So Trade Commissioner Cathy Ashton becomes EU Foreign Representative. Remember who was Trade Commissioner until a year ago? But for another of Gordon Brown's incomprehensible moves, we could now have had Lord Mandelson as the EU's Foreign Minister...
Rob, Hilversum, The Netherlands
If you're able to keep Belgium together for a few months, you're pretty much capable of anything. That shows strength and coherence, no matter what you think of the guy. And so what if he is "unknown"? All the better. Had it been Blair or Sarkozy or whoever like that, I would have moved to Mexico. I'm just sad that we've lost the best PM we've had in a while.
Isabelle Bischop, Brussels, Belgium
"Baroness Ashton, currently EU Trade Commissioner, said she was "slightly surprised but... deeply privileged". How could it be? These words mean that she has been suggested at the last moment. Here I agree with Vaira-Vike Freiberga saying that the procedure of the selection of the top EU officials reminds the Soviet-style clandestine procedure. That means that the EU Council, that is, heads of our countries, did not even try to consult with the wider public. What about the official nomination procedure? Only Latvia said it openly that we nominate Vaira-Vike Freiberga. I am deeply frustrated with the procedure. If this continues, the anti-EU feeling will grow!
Irina Ivaskina, Riga, Latvia
Given that the EU is not a federal State, unlike the USA or Russia, but a fairly loose union of sovereign countries, the role of the President and the "Foreign Minister" can only be that of a coordinator and consensual manager, 2.5 years in post instead of the current 6 months, thereby providing better continuity. That should allay fears of a "United States of Europe"
Mike, Warsaw, Poland
As a Belgian, I think the appointment of PM Herman Van Rompuy as the first President of Europe is, of course, an honour. But at the same time I think it's not a good thing for our country. Who's going to be the new PM? Will there be new elections again? Lots of questions. Once again "political chaos" in Belgium.
Stijn Vlaeminck, Ghent, Belgium
It seems to me that Brussels is busy 'keeping it in the family' so that the Commission can quietly continue it's economic agenda under the guidance of its bedfellows, the corporate lobbyists. The one hope that I have is that Baroness Ashton won't be a 'puppy' and that she will be true to her roots and will stick up for the rights and the needs of disadvantaged (both inside Europe and in Europe's trading partners) in the face of an ever-more 'Corporate Europe'. But the Machiavellian mechanisms behind the doors of the Commission do not leave me with much hope.
Alan Searle, Cologne, Germany
It is not just a wasted opportunity, but a deliberately avoided opportunity. The EU needs heavy hitters who can work with - and if necessary square up to - Obama, Putin et al. It is bad enough that the role of the President of the Council was watered down, but to appoint a nice, bland, international nonentity signals that Europe does not want to be a world power.
Glossa, Glossa Greece
This is a major beat of old Europe against the New Europe. Tony Blair was best fitted for the strong and new Europe president. The vote was for weak European Union.
Danail Kossev, Sofia, Bulgaria
I was surprised with the appointment of Baroness Ashton to the position of EU foreign affairs supremo. Britain has not fully adopted EU and refuses to use Euro as the common currency, is more friendly with US than EU, feels superior and thinks has superior legal and other policies than EU, does not fully support the Lisbon treaty. How could then a British representative support such a post in the EU? I wonder if she will put British interest over EU interest in fulfilling her role.
Sonia Abrahamian, Limassol, Cyprus
Who are these people? They have only been chosen because they will not overshadow Mr. Sarkozy or Mrs Merkel!
Patricia, St Genis Laval, France
The appointed persons are relatvely unknown in Europe and seem to lack even moderate carisma, therby suiting the Frensh, German and Italian leaders well, who now will run no risk of being put in the shadow by a strong, competent and carismatic EU leader team.
Bjorn Gustbee, Jomala, Finland
Von Rumpoy will use Belgium as his model for turning Europe into an efficient, modern federal state.
Richard Russell, Eynatten, Belgium
Yes, the best people have been chosen. Herman Van Rompuy isn't just a politician, he's a wise man too. He governs to united and doesn't put his own wishes first. Tony Blair didn't stand a chance. Imagine a President for Europe who doesn't back up the Euro. No one I spoke here could accept this. The United Kingdom can't rule Europe, using the British currency: the pound sterling. It may rule the waves, but in order to rule Europe, it needs to back up the European currency: the Euro.
Sandy Vanderzee, Koksijde Belgium
As a Turkish Citizen of Europe, it is very dissapointing to hear that Mr. Van Rompuy is chosen as the Leader of EU. It is a compromise not meant to fill in a leadership role. He is a known conservative with religious prejiduces. What the world needs is a strong liberal, inclusive EU. Not one with a figure head.
Bertan Atalay, The Hauge
With the eventual accession of Turkey in EU notwithstanding existing difficulties, EU is expected to have a strong voice and influence in islamic world and Asia. Being known to be adamantly opposed to the membership of Turkey in EU, Mr.Van Rompuy's election to EU Presidency may have a setback to EU's evolving into a real world power.
Ayhan Atay Kamel, Istanbul-TURKEY
We, who turned our faces towards west and working hard to meet with EU pre requisitions in order to access to Union and be a part of the civilised world since years are very much disappointed with this decision. Let's hope van Rompuy will stay distant to his previously declared conservative mindset. We will carry on working on our duty, but I suspect this step from EU will have a negative influence on the Turkish citizen's perception of Union's sincerity on seeing us a full member.
Altan Bekat, Izmir - Turkey
Van Rompuy is an excellent choice, for he is capable if thinking inclusively, rather than exclusively. Apart from many other qualities, this one is essential for the EU president.
brede kristensen, Bucharest, Rumania
Great deal! I think the EU leaders have achieved a good balance amid a lot of sophisticated problem that so long had barred way of European Union to the 'world economic and political superpower' that in future would be able to compete with the US, China and Japan.Sincerely. Leonid
Leoid Reshodko, Kyiv, Ukraine
The choice of Mr Herman Van Rompuy as president of European Council is an excellent one!!! The choice of Mrs Catherine Ashton seems a good one as well. A good compromise, the Belgian way.
Giovanni Temporin, Fleurus(Charleroi) Belgium
I think Van Rompuy was a good choice for the presidency. The EU president can only speak about a topic when the member states have reached a consensus on the common position. A charismatic president is useless when he isn't allowed to speak. I believe the chance of reaching such a common position is the highest with Van Rompuy in charge.
Cedric, Kortrijk, Belgium
It is a travesty, both President and Foreign Secretary, and makes a mockery of the Lisbon Treaty. However it does show that Cameron is right about Europe and vindicates his parties move to the right and away from the centre of EU politics. Quite what message it sends to America and China about Europe's role in International Affairs I shudder to think.
Ken, Kilrush, Ireland
Yes Mr Van Rompuy is good choice.
Nicu, Iasi, Romania
Tony Blair wanted the job but the Europeans did not want him. Mr Van Rompuy may not be the best person for the job, but he is a full member of the European Union. Unlike the UK, the Euro and open borders are two common areas that are better served by a member country. Next time around, if the UK wants the job, they should embrace those policies.
Yes, I think it is a good choice- Herman van Rompuy is PM of a country which is at the very heart of Europe, where the EU Parliament is located. He will be very well informed and up-to-date on everything to do with how the European Union works, and is in a good position to make intelligent and educated decisions about how Europe's laws and systems work. He'll also be an excellent position to represent Europe at the very top levels of international affairs- FAR better than the war criminal Tony Blair, who's reputation and credibility is in tatters in most nations of the world.
Owen, Malvern, Worcestershire
Firstly, I thank all the gods that the odious Blair isn't back. Having said that, this is typical of the EU elite. Decisions about the most important offices made secretly behind closed doors by the "In crowd". One of the new incumbents has never been elected to anything. This travesty is completely undemocratic and shameful. Many years ago I thought I was voting in favour of a European free trade area. They lied to us then and they are still lying to us now.
Anybody but Tony Blair and Sarkozy.
Mary, Iowa City, Iowa
I personally would much have preferred to see Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President of Latvia, as the President of the European Council. First of all, she speaks four languages, in addition to her native one, fluently, five in total, and since one aspect of the presidency is a sort of "Chairman"-like role, that would be a good asset, secondly she's a woman, there's way too few women in top EU posts. And thirdly she's from one of the newer member states.
Troels, Silkeborg, Denmark
This just proves what a waste of time the EU is. Choosing a weak man, who is unknown and has no clout in the world. This position demanded a strong person who could stand up and challenge the Chinese and the Americans. It justifies my reasons for Not being interested in the EU! Rubbish!
John, Derby, UK
A disaster for Europe - as could be expected. Small-minded, internal focus has won the day after all. If anything positive is to come from this, is could be that is leaves the field open for Euro-sceptics to wonder what the EU member states are really after: a role on the international stage or merely someone to chair endless meetings on how taxpayers money is being wasted.
Adrie, London, UK
I feel the right choices have been made, since neither bring a lot confrontational baggage with them, they will I think draw the Union closer together, & provide, a steady calm approach, they will bring differing skills,& balance, to a difficult arena of politic's for anyone to operate in, their appointment's brought about a rare event, that of unity, amongst the council, an event in itself.
Michael, Yorkshire, UK
Just as long as it wasn't Blair. When I heard he hadn't got the job, I cheered.
Margaret Nelson, Ipswich, UK
Another closed door appointment bureaucratic appointment. British troops fighting for democracy in Afghanistan and we cannot even have a vote here!
Travs Valar, London
Seems to me a good balance, centre right and centre left cannot fault it, all with a good background and None -Seeking Glory Good solid Choice, Steady movements are required to consolidate the expanded EU With care on overseas policy. No snap decisions on these matters. Too much of that from the UK.
WA Froud , Letchworth, Herts
Is the new EU President a good choice? What choice? I did not have a say in choosing him. I did not have a say in whether there should be a president at all, I did not have a say in whether there should be a European Union, I do recall my parents having a say in choosing to join something called a Common Market, So I ask again, What choice?
Sarah, London, UK
A complete and utter farce - a total EU stitch up. How are we meant to take these people seriously. Come on - anyone actually heard of them until now? About as much democracy as my cat can wield... i.e. zilch. Time to head for the door marked EXIT.
N Henry, Weybridge, Surrey
The best top level appointments are necessarily based on the proven, and potential, ability to make and maintain relationships that will serve the best interests of the organization and all of its members. What support the chosen individuals have, and the quality of their staff and advisors, is a factor in any such decision. It appears that the EU Council had those factors in mind when the selections were made. Certainly a better system than popular public election where charismatic dictators and demagogues, partly platforms, and the inept and unproven can sell themselves to a naive public, gaining power that they should not ever have. The roles in question are not starter jobs, with long learning curves, as is the case in some similar situations in some countries, but instead senior leadership roles that require experience.
Bob, Hamilton, Canada