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US president and EU president

Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009
Belgian PM named as EU president


European Council leaders have elected a president under the rules of the newly-adopted Lisbon Treaty. But how does the position compare to that of other presidents, such as the President of the United States?

President of European Council President of United States of America

Flags of Eu and US


European Union:
Population: 490 million
GDP: $18.7tn
United States:
Population: 304 million
GDP: $14.9tn

Military: 3,800 troops on European military missions Military: 250,000 on deployment (Iraq/Afghanistan)

Land mass: Land mass:

Graphic showing land mass of EU and US


Elected by:
European Council leaders. Liable to select candidate by consensus. If vote held, each country has different number of votes. Winner must gain 258 out of 345 votes from at least 18 of the 27 countries.
Elected by:
Electoral College system. In general election, must win 270 out of 538 electoral college votes. President Barack Obama won 67 million votes in popular vote.

Term of two and half years – renewable once. Term of four years – renewable once.

Salary reported to be 350,000 euros ($521,374) a year President earns 268,521 euros ($400,000) a year

Position and key roles: Position and key roles:

Flow charts shwoing structure of EU and US government


Chairs European Council.Duty to “facilitate cohesion and consensus”, without national bias.

Head of state.Partisan, elected on own platform of policies, usually with support of a party, eg Republican or Democratic.


Represents EU abroad on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy.

Negotiates treaties. Directs foreign policy. Can sign executive orders without Congress approval.


No powers of veto.

Power of Veto – President must sign any bill passed by Congress before it becomes law.


Must report to European Parliament after each European Council meeting.

President must report to Congress by delivering State of Union address.

Eufor US


Military control:
No influence on military. EU Military staff receives “taskings” from EU Military Committee (which represents defence chiefs of all member states).
Military control:
Commander-in-Chief of armed forces – responsible for strategy. Congress must approve going to war but president can decide when to launch nuclear missiles.


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