Herman Van Rompuy has threatened to keep Europe’s leaders in Brussels for as long as it takes over the weekend to reach a budget deal.
After his election as the European Council’s first full-time President, he was much ridiculed by British Eurosceptics, with Ukip leader Nigel Farage telling him he had “all the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk”. Many Labour MPs for their part were disappointed that the post had not gone to Tony Blair.
But the former Belgian prime minister has impressed many in Brussels with his calm performance at the helm during the continuing turbulence in the Eurozone.
His reputation for achieving consensus dates back to his time in culturally and linguistically divided Belgium will be sorely tested when 27 EU leaders – each with their own priorities for EU spending – gather in Van Rompuy’s home town in two days’ time.