Van Rompuy was a little known figure when first elected and was regarded as an uncharismatic compromise candidate -- former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been a frontrunner. His background in economics and finance -- he worked in the central bank and as budget minister before becoming prime minister in 2008 -- gave him a strong understanding when the debt crisis struck, and his low-key, consensus-building approach has steadily won over EU leaders. Some diplomats have suggested the bilingual Belgian acts as too much of a tool of France and Germany, the two most powerful countries in the euro zone. Van Rompuy has dismissed that criticism, saying he makes sure to consult with all 27 member states on critical issues, while also knowing that no deal is ever possible in the EU without France and Germany being on side.
A fan of Haiku poetry and a committed Catholic, Van Rompuy has described himself as a quiet diplomat and behind-the-scenes facilitator. In an interview with Reuters last year, he said one of his strengths was patience. "You have to be very patient, because you have to respect everybody,» he said. «Even if he knows he is the biggest player or the smallest player -- they are all part of the game." Van Rompuy's second term will keep him in the post until the end of 2014. It cannot be renewed a third time. [Reuters] - Ekathimerini.com