(March 2, 2012)
European Union leaders elected Herman Van Rompuy to a second, 2-1/2-year term as president of the European Council on Thursday, March 1, a vote of confidence in the former Belgian prime minister’s handling of the euro zone debt crisis.
According to Reuters, the leaders also appointed Van Rompuy, 64, to be president of euro zone summits, two of which will be held each year from now on, on top of the four EU summits that normally take place.
“(I am) very honored that all European Council members have decided to ask me to continue as European Council President for a second mandate,” Van Rompuy said in a statement posted on Twitter. “It’s a privilege to serve Europe in such decisive times; also a big responsibility.”
As Council president, Van Rompuy chairs and prepares meetings of EU leaders, working to build agreement among them, a role that has put him at the centre of efforts to resolve the debt crisis since his appointment in December 2009.
Along with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, he is also the chief representative of the European Union at international gatherings, such as the G8 and G20, and speaks on behalf of the EU at the United Nations.