BRUSSELS, November 20 (RIA Novosti) - Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy who has been elected the first president of the European Union will start his new job on January 1, 2010, a EU spokesman said.
The leaders of the EU's 27 countries elected Van Rompuy as Permanent President of the European Council and Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton as new EU foreign policy chief during a meeting in Brussels on Thursday evening.
The president will mainly have the role of a figurehead, without executive powers. He will "take on the work currently assigned to rotating Presidencies" and "facilitate cohesion and consensus within the European Council."
Britain's Catherine Ashton, who, according to AFP, "vowed to continue her style of 'quiet diplomacy' and a determination 'to get things done," is expected to take office as early as December 1.
Both posts have been introduced by the EU reform treaty, also known as the Lisbon Treaty, which comes into effect on December 1 after the long-delayed ratification by all 27 EU member countries.