This blog is hosted on Ideas on EuropeIdeas on Europe Avatar

Latest

Trajectories of a new European elite: A closer look at Mogherini’s CV

1 comment

You could look at yesterday’s nomination of  Federica Mogherini as the future High Representative of the EU from a simple power balance and recent past perspective:

She’s representing  one of large EU member states, one of the founding member states and her political party is the largest group within the Socialists and Democrats in the newly elected European Parliament. She has recent foreign ministerial experience, and represented the Italian Parliament in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, among other things. She’s also female, which will make her one of the few female leaders of major EU institutions and bodies (the EEAS in her case).

But looking at her CV as officially communicated by the European Council, three steps in her career stick out that may indicate that she is a representative a new type of European leaders:

  • She was a member of the bureau of the Party of European Socialists (PES).
  • She was a member of the board of the Young European Socialists, the PES youth organisation.
  • She was a member of the board of the European Youth Forum.

There’s very little digital proof of her activities in these positions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, like this one for ECOSY, or this one (p. 588) or this one for her work in the European Youth Forum, and no real proof of her PES bureau membership, so it might be worth digging a little deeper to see her concrete role in those positions and the extent to which they allowed her to become what she has become today.

In any case, the fact that she was nominated by the Party of European Socialists may not be fully explained without understanding that she has a background in European Union youth politics, both in the political youth of the European Socialists as well as in the most important European youth NGO. Gaining credibility and visibility within European political party and European civil society ranks seems to be an emerging path for European power elites.

While many top positions in the EU these days are still filled with politicians whose main core career path has been in national politics – Donald Tusk is one of those examples – there is a push of a group of young(er) political activists with a significant European level background. While Mogherini may be one of the first to reach the actual top ranks in the EU, others like 32-year old Ska Keller (who had been in the leadership of the Federation of Young European Greens) have been among the first generation of “Spitzenkandidaten” who were campaigning for the post of European Commission President this spring.

Other European top leaders like Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who was a serious contender for European Council President, or Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb have started their careers by studying in the College of Europe and by becoming young members of the European Parliament (Thorning-Schmidt and Stubb both at 36), before now being national leaders with a significant role in EU politics.

This demonstrates that looking at the trajectories of European leaders cannot ignore the growing role of European political parties and their European youth organisations. Looking for young ambitious politicians starting from the College of Europe or young people who manage to get  leadership positions in European NGOs may be as important in understanding who might be a future EU leader as it was in the past to understand what old, worn-out politicians or high ranking (ex-)leaders might want to crown their national career by ending up in Brussels.

In any case, and this is what Mogherini has said in the Q&A of the press conference after her nomination yesterday, that even though she may not have a long background as a foreign minister, she sees her European and international experience much wider than this narrow look at high-level foreign policy experience.

Whether it will be enough to do the job expected from her in the coming years is hers to proof, but it’s probably worth taking a second and closer look at her CV to guess what type of EU “foreign minister” she well be.


Recent Articles

The Juncker Presidencies & EU budget stability

Published on by | 1 Comment

I’m just doing some research on budgetary rules in the Eurozone, pre- and post-crisis, and stumbled over some interesting EU trivia: Reading the original Council Regulation (Regulation 1466/97) on the Stability and Growth Pact which was meant to ensure fiscal discipline in the Eurozone, I saw that this regulation was signed by then Council President […]

4 topics that may interest you in my doctoral thesis

Published on by | 1 Comment
ResearchFrame_PhDThesis

Last month, my PhD thesis “Information flows in the context of EU policy-making : affiliation networks and the post-2012 reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy” has been published online (under a Creative Commons license), so anyone is free to read it, quote it, criticise it. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, […]

The “arch-federalist” Juncker? A comparative perspective

Published on by | Comments Off

UK politicians call Juncker arch-federalist, and  the press has taken over this term, too. The Telegraph does it. The Guardian does it. The (Irish) Independent does it. The Washington Post does. What they show is their lack of perspective, of comparative analysis, with Juncker’s predecessor(s) and with his competitors for the Commission top-job. Had those media […]

Juncker: The first European Commission President we can get rid of

Published on by | 1 Comment

The news today reported that both Sweden and the Netherlands – i.e. their prime ministers – have dropped their previous opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker to becoming European Commission President. This pretty much means that Juncker will get the first EU top job nomination at the European Council meeting tomorrow and after-tomorrow, as only Cameron (UK) […]

What will the European Commission learn from the European Parliament elections 2014?

Published on by | Comments Off

On 28 May, the Wednesday after the European elections, Barroso reported back to the Commission from the informal dinner of heads of state and government the evening before in which the future European Commission President was discussed. After a quite general presentation of Barroso’s impressions of the informal dinner, the  minutes of the European Commission College […]

Real backroom deals and the collective failure of the European Council – a reply to Simon Nixon and others

Published on by | Comments Off

I’ve already had my say on the Spitzenkandidaten-process-debate. Yet, over the weekend, I had to laugh about the absurdity of one quote in Simon Nixon‘s Wall Street Journal blog post “Blame Merkel, not Cameron, for Juncker Mess“. Here’s what he wrote “Mr. Juncker is being foisted on the European Council by the European Parliament as a […]

How limited are LIMITE documents for national parliaments in the EU?

Published on by | 1 Comment

In the article “Classifying Secrets in the EU” (paywall, JCMS 53(3)) by EU Council official David Galloway, the world of secret EU documents has found its way into mainstream EU-related political science. And in  “Overseeing Secrets in the EU: A Democratic Perspective” by Prof. Deirdre Curtin (also JCMS 53(3)), this world of classified EU documents has been […]

Subscribe to a fortnightly email featuring posts from Ideas on Europe hosted blogs

UACES and Ideas on Europe do not take responsibility for opinions expressed in articles on blogs hosted on Ideas on Europe. All opinions are those of the contributing authors.