Sumario: 20 November 2009, Brussels - The whole EU can "now focus more on the crucial issues facing our citizens" according to the Parliament's President Jerzy Buzek. He was speaking after the appointment of Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton to the top two posts created by the Lisbon treaty. The latter will have to appear for a Q&A session before Members of the European Parliament before she can take up her post, a procedure now foreseen for January.
Speaking after the election of the Belgian Christian Democrat to the post of President of the European Council, Mr Buzek said that "I had called on Europe's governments to appoint more of a co-ordinator than a President; I believe Mr Van Rompuy will fulfil this role".
For Catherine Ashton, at present the European Commissioner for Trade, the appointment means that as well as being "High Representative" (EU foreign minister in all but name), she will also be Vice-President of the European Commission. It is the latter post that means that "the European Parliament will scrutinise her suitability for the post" according to Mr Buzek".
The former Leader of the British Labour Party in the UK House of Lords will also oversee the EU's diplomatic service - the "External Action Service".
Posts intended to create more coherency
As expected the two figures came from the centre right and centre left of Europe's political family. The creation of both posts is intended to allow the European Union to project itself more coherently both in Europe and internationally.
Lady Ashton will be one of the whole new team of European Commissioners who must pass muster with MEPs before they can take up their duties. A full list of the nominees for all the different countries is expected to be unveiled soon.
Hearings are expected to take place in the Parliament in January, after that the whole European Parliament must vote on whether to approve the Commission.