The European Union today elected the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy as the new president to chair EU summits and represent the bloc on the world stage. This ends the speculation around the talks of who would land up the top job. Earlier the ex-British PM, Tony Blair was being seen as the top contender to the post.
He will also have the role of a new foreign policy chief. He had emerged as the frontrunner before being selected. His appointment was cleared after Czech Republic ratified the Lisbon Treaty.
Baroness Catherine Ashton from Great Britain has been chosen as the foreign policy chief. She is currently the Trade Comissioner for EU. This post was also created as a result of the Lisbon Treaty.
Rompuy is seen as a consensus building, low profile leader who would not upstage the typical big powers and their leaders in Europe. His appointment is said to be backed by Germany and France. He was appointed Prime Minister of Belgium in December 2008 before having held the position of President of the lower house of parliament since July 2007.
A Christian Democrat, while being the budget minister previously, he took a tough stance on the economic policies of the nation and had been successful in drastically reducing the nation’s public debt.
Rompuy, 62 is also an avid blogger and has penned six books, mostly on social and political issues. He is also a keen poet and is perhaps known best for his Haikus, a 17 syllable (mora) form of Japanese poetry.
He attended the Jesuit Sint-Jan Berchmans College in the Belgian capital, and studied philosophy and economics at the Catholic University of Leuven.