Tony Blair urges EU to elect a president (so who could be in contention?)

Former PM puts case for job he is said to have wanted in the past

Tony Blair has called on the European Union to consider carrying out continent-wide elections for a President of Europe, a move he claimed would restore confidence in the wake of the eurozone crisis.

The former Labour prime minister, who has hinted in the past that he would consider taking the job, said an elected president would help voters feel less alienated from Brussels.

"Out of this European crisis can come the opportunity finally to achieve a model of European integration that is sustainable," Mr Blair told an audience of senior politicians in Berlin. "A Europe-wide election for the presidency of the Commission or Council is the most direct way to involve the public. An election for a big post held by one person – this people can understand."

The proposal was one of a raft of measures that Mr Blair said were necessary to restore the confidence of the public and markets. He added that economic and political reforms of the EU should be implemented as part of a "Grand Bargain", rather than in incremental steps, as has been the case so far. "We should recognise that the underlying, profound rationale for Europe and its union is stronger than ever," he added.

Mr Blair's proposals are likely to be viewed as a further hint that he is positioning himself as a candidate for such a job. In the run-up to the Lisbon Treaty, Mr Blair was tipped as a front-runner for the newly created post of EU President.

It was reported at the time that Mr Blair dispatched his former chief of staff Jonathan Powell to lobby European leaders on his behalf and ensure his name was among a list of contenders.

Mr Blair's hopes were dashed when Gordon Brown, then Prime Minister, dropped his support, and the bloc's 27 leaders named Herman Van Rompuy as the EU's first president.

Recent comments made by Mr Blair suggest that his ambition has not waned. In June this year, he told BBC Radio that he did not want a major job in the EU "at the moment".

Asked on BBC Radio Four's World at One if he would like to be the elected president of the EU, he said: "I think that's a way, way down the line".

Last night, Nigel Farage MEP, the leader of the UK Independence Party, questioned the motives behind Mr Blair's proposals. "Mr Blair is so out of touch and only interested in furthering his own ambitions. It is no surprise that under his leadership the country was heading towards a financial crisis with unsustainable economic growth."

"What the people of this country want is not a directly elected president, but a referendum on our future relationship with Europe," he added.

A spokesman for Tony Blair's office said the idea of a directly elected president was "not new at all", and was touted by Mr Blair and other European leaders as early as 2003 "as a way to help close the democratic deficit of the EU".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders