Vanessa Mock: Shadowy race, but with the right result

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The Independent Online

It is nothing new for the EU to be blasted for being an opaque and shadowy bureaucratic behemoth, but the search for an EU President has triggered some of the most strident criticism yet of the way Brussels operates.

Many of the candidates have not publicly declared themselves in a race that has taken place behind closed doors. One of the few openly campaigning for the job, former Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga, has accused the EU of operating "Soviet-style" in "darkness". Last week, Poland led a group of nations demanding presentations from the frontrunners to make the process more transparent and democratic. Yet these calls are unhelpful in this fraught and complex diplomatic game.

The Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose nation holds the rotating presidency, has been negotiating for weeks with the 27 capitals. The President and High Representative have to strike a balance between small and large, east and west, north and south member states. Ideally, one should be a woman and they should come from the EU's two biggest political families.

It is a near-impossible task that has already dragged on. Suggestions of a US-style presidential campaign ignore the fact that whoever gets these un-elected posts will always be accountable to the 27 member states and will wield no power without them.

Infuriating and shadowy it may be, but in the end a consensus will be found. And that is what matters in a union of 27 very different countries.