British diplomats are fighting a rearguard action to prevent France from taking the key financial job in Brussels after Baroness Ashton of Upholland’s appointment as foreign affairs chief.
With Paris and Berlin setting their sights on controlling the EU’s economic agenda, a former French Foreign Minister, Michel Barnier, is being tipped to take the plum commission portfolio overseeing the internal market and financial services.
Germany is seeking the industry or energy jobs in the European Commission line-up due to be announced this month, while also preparing its national bank chairman to take over at the European Central Bank.
It should not be too difficult to obstruct the French. The one thing guaranteed to upset the smaller Member States is the idea that France and Germany should dictate who gets what. In any case, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands are due some compensation for being passed over in the appointment of the president. But it remains to be seen if the FCO have the nous to take advantage.