As the UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum held on 23 June 2016, we are mothballing Sceptic.eu for now. While the website will remain online for reference purposes, it will not be updated unless the 'Brexit' process falters.

Former incumbents

Van RompuyHerman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council (twice) 2009-2014. Basic annual salary €310k, though the total cost of his salary, staff and expenses was around €6m per year. Had a not uncommon politician's background in economics and lecturing, and was a reluctant prime minister of Belgium for a year. Capable enough eurocrat, being regarded as a consensual politician albeit with limited foreign policy experience. Van Rompuy's ability as a leader to inspire the EU's half billion people, who of course never voted for him, was another matter entirely. He could sign international treaties on their behalf without being answerable to them or anyone else. Famously insulted, perhaps accurately, by Nigel Farage UKIP MEP, as having "the charisma of a damp rag, and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk". A tedious Twitter enthusiast and maker of stultifying presidential videos, Van Rompuy managed to claim that "the European Union is still sexy".

BarrosoJosé Barroso, President of the European Commission (twice) 2004-2014. Basic annual salary €321k. A law graduate, he served in the governments of Portugal as a minister in Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs before becoming Prime Minister for two years. Was embroiled in a few political controversies, including possible patronage. But Barroso's early prominence was as a communist student leader expounding Maoist and Marxist-Leninist views. Now a strident EU integrationist, he wants the EU to evolve into a "federation of nation-states" and has criticized national governments, saying that "Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong". Really letting power go to his head, Barroso claimed that the EU has "the dimension of empire", and seems unable to grasp the parallels between his vision of the EU and the former Soviet Union.

AshtonBaroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (or more plainly, EU Foreign Minister) 2009-2014. Basic annual salary €290k. Appointed probably to compensate Labour for the rejection of Tony Blair as EU President. Spoke no foreign languages, and had no foreign-policy background, except for steering the Lisbon Treaty through the UK House of Lords. Never elected by anyone to anything; a lifelong quangocrat. Previously held various well-paid and well-pensioned public-sector positions, but was notably the vice-chair and treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), denying any contact with, or funding from, the USSR. Long and widely criticized for a lack of leadership ability, scant knowledge, unconvincing commitment and a poor attendance record. Too late in the day, Ashton showed some competence in negotiations in the Balkans and the Middle East, but her involvement in Ukraine's troubles was much less wise. The European External Action Service (EEAS) foreign ministry which Ashton led was found to be poorly managed, wasteful and lacking in competence.