10 november 2011, the europeans are coming

Despite the fact that for rather too many people (especially brits) "europe" is in its death throes, the pronounced trend of senior eu officials and politicians vaulting back into prominent national positions continues apace, suggesting that most think they have savvy experience. Romano prodi, former commission president, was I think the first to make prime minister, and the last sensible italian one, very ably supported by my old ecb boss tomasso padoa schioppa (25 october 2009) as his excellent finance minister; the same role held in spain by ex-commissioner pedro solbes. In finland the foreign minister is the boyish alexander stubb, who I had the absolute delight of hosting for lunch once in frankfurt (31 august 2010) at one of our events back when he was a mere member of the european parliament. In between being a commissioner once and now again, michel barnier was french foreign minister. In britain, brussels used to be seen as a political graveyard, but now even the eurosceptic conservatives have promoted ex-mep theresa villiers almost to the cabinet, whilst the last government had ex-commissioner peter mandelson as deputy prime minister, and the current dpm is ex-mep nick clegg; his closest rival is another ex-mep, chris huhne. Next week may see another former commissioner (mario monti) again as italian prime minister, whilst tonight the former ecb vice-president is greece's new prime minister. Though I didn't really know him, I know that he was a hugely respected and capable workaholic, with an outstanding mind, who got where he has on the sheer merit of being a genuinely outstanding economist. The quiet storm that is lucas papademos has quite a job to do now, but if anyone can slowly, carefully, deliberately work through what needs to be done, it is this most honourable of men with surely exactly the right experience. We wish him well.