EU Gets Belgian President And British Foreign Minister As Blair Bows Out

"Europes eight-year quest to establish a simpler and more democratic regime came to a dramatic climax tonight when the Belgian prime minister, Herman Van Rompuy, and Britains Cathy Ashton, were appointed as the two top officials embodying the new system. In a surprise move that saw Gordon Brown abandon his campaign to have Tony Blair made first president of the European Council, Lady Ashton, the current European commissioner for trade, became Europes foreign minister or high representative for foreign and security policy. Rompuy, a Flemish Christian Democrat, who had been Belgiums prime minister for less than a year, became president of the European Council, the first permanent leader who will chair EU summits and represent the EU abroad. Despite two weeks of dispute among EU governments over how to share out the posts, a consensus was reached quickly tonight at a special summit dinner."