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Rick Lawson on the battle for the presidency of the Council of Europe

Will Belgian politician Didier Reynders become the new secretary-general of the Council of Europa? At the end of January he submitted his candidacy and he now only has one rival: the Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marija Burić.

Rick Lawson

Reynders is vice-president of the Belgian federal government on behalf of the  Mouvement Réformateur party. It is surprising that no former prime minister has put themselves forward for the position, according to Professor of European Law Rick Lawson in Belgian newspaper De Morgen (in Dutch): 'The Council of Europe is looking for a high profile person to be secretary-general and put the institution back on the map. But it is remarkable that no former prime ministers have presented themselves for the job. Reynders is just below that level.'

In recent months, Reynders has presented a clear plan for the future of the Council of Europe. Since he wants to make investments instead of cutbacks, he will require Member States to pay a higher contribution. 'By ensuring that the institution becomes relevant again, he can also acquire international prestige for himself.  The Council of Europe remains one of the few channels for talks with Russia and perhaps in a while with the United Kingdom in the aftermath of Brexit.'

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