EU summit sherpas: key figures behind the scenes

18 Oct

A laid-back former banker, described as one of the outstanding British civil servants of his generation, Ivan Rogers is the most senior EU adviser to David Cameron helping the prime minister weave his way through the minefield of negotiations.

Rogers, 52, who cut his teeth as chef de cabinet to the European commission vice-president Leon Brittan in the mid-1990s, was summoned back to government from Barclays Capital in 2011.

He was appointed head of the prime minister’s European and Global Issues Secretariat after Sir Jon Cunliffe moved to become the UK’s permanent representative to the EU.

The former Treasury civil servant is the prime minister’s formal point man with senior officials in all the main EU capitals. The Downing Street chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, who served in the Brussels cabinet of Chris Patten when he succeeded Brittan in 1999, is also a familiar face in EU circles.

Brittan says: “Ivan affects to be very calm and laid-back. But he is pretty serious-minded. While he was completely loyal to the European commission he was able to maintain good relations with the British government. That was not at all easy. He ran the team very effectively.”

One government source said: “Ivan has more of a laid-back style than Jon Cunliffe. But he has a phenomenal intellect and powers of analysis. He is good at explaining complicated ideas succinctly. He is also not afraid to speak truth unto power. He will not shout at the prime minister but he will say: ‘This is a problem, prime minister.’ “

When German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to the press after European summits, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut discreetly takes a step back. But much of what his boss had just negotiated behind closed doors and then announces to the public, Meyer-Landrut has pre-thought and pre-negotiated with his EU counterparts.

Since his promotion in early 2011 – when the 51-year-old career diplomat became the European policy chief adviser to the chancellor – he has become the main influence on European policy in Berlin. Without his ideas and persistent negotiation skills the European fiscal pact would never have been sealed. Like Merkel, Meyer-Landrut is also convinced that the euro crisis is an opportunity to make Europe more stable – not by indulging the debt sinners, but through clear and enforceable rules for economic and financial policies.

Meyer-Landrut was appointed as Merkel’s deputy EU adviser in 2005. That he became one of her closest advisers six years later is probably because both approach political problems in a similar way.

Merkel, like Meyer-Landrut, looks at the facts from all angles first, then calculates what is enforceable and what needs to be enforced. He is a committed European, but not a dreamer. He has also spent almost his entire career on European issues – (unusual for a German diplomat – working at the German mission to the EU and the Foreign Office. He also instinctively understands the Franco-German axis and, somehow, counts as an honorary Frenchman, having worked for former French president Valery Giscard D’Estaing, and having married a Frenchwoman.

The Elysée Palace’s “Mr Europe”, Philippe Léglise-Costa, cut his teeth in the team of former foreign minister Hubert Vedrine from 1999-2002, as junior adviser. He was propelled from No 2 at the French mission in Brussels to the team of Europe secretary Jean-Pierre Jouyet in 2007. Now 45, he has a reputation for pragmatism and diplomatic agility, and is something of an agnostic on matters of greater European federalism. Ambitious.

He does not give press conferences and is hardly known to the public – but among Spain’s political and economic elites he is known as the “third finance minister”. Alvaro Nadal, head of the prime minister’s economics office, is Mariano Rajoy’s sherpa at European summits and the G20. However, he is much more than that.

This talented 42-year-old economist is the man who explains the economy to the prime minister. His knowledge of German and his contacts among those surrounding Angela Merkel afford him influence over Rajoy. “The most German of Spaniards,” FT Deutschland once called him.

Nadal is seen as the man responsible for Rajoy’s Europe policies, although he is not exactly in favour of Germany’s theses. Nadal, according to various government sources, is convinced it is best to push the Germans to the limit, so that they realise they cannot let Spain fall and therefore ease up on Rajoy. “He is not a politician. He is a man with firm liberal ideas who will take his theoretical idea to the very limit,” says a People party insider.

Rajoy trusts him absolutely. If you want to know what will happen with the bailout you must talk to Nadal.

Nowadays he has shut himself away and only appears in public for key meetings: of Rajoy with Merkel, François Hollande or Barack Obama. On such occasions Nadal is there, close to hand.

Mention Henry Morton Stanley and you’ll see his eyes light up. Enzo Moavero has a weakness for explorers, and particularly for the Welshman-cum-American who became one of the symbols of the golden age of Equatorial exploration.

Moavero collects maps, saying they help him understand political change, the evolution of thought and of people, and the births and deaths of empires and of states. Since taking over as minister for European affairs in the government of Mario Monti, his job has been to forge again the rusted links between Rome and Brussels. He was a natural choice for the post, since he made his career in the European institutions and knows which doors to knock on in the commission, council, and parliament.

“He is the most active [Italian] minister anyone can remember,” said an MEP. “Sometimes, he can be long-winded. But the MEPs very much appreciate him”, said one long-time collaborator.

Born in Rome in 1954, he finished his education at the College of Europe in Bruges, where he specialised in EU law. Moavero went into the commission where, by the end of the 1980s, he was already a chef de cabinet.

In 1993, he was asked by the-then head of the government, Giuliano Amato, to take a post in the prime minister’s office, where he remained after Amato was replaced by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. It was during this period that he first met Mario Monti. When Monti was made an EU commissioner at the start of 1995, he chose Moavero to run his cabinet.

Moavero stayed on until the start of Monti’s second mandate. But in 2000, he was made director general of the commission and then, in 2006, a judge at the court of justice in Luxembourg. 

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