Daniel Gueguen

The Commission tends by its very nature towards bureaucracy. There is an urgent need for the legislators to rise to the challenge

I was tempted to call this editorial ‘Organising disorder’. Perhaps I was dissuaded once realised that six months of activity in a fiveyear mandate is not enough to judge the new team – at least not definitively. The first six months of the Juncker Commission were devoted to reordering the EU executive, prioritising issues and ensuring better interinstitutional governance. This latter goal has brought a series of actions and proposals whose results seem to be deviating from the stated objectives.

 

84 candidates for directorgeneral: Good idea?

The Commission president has decided to abolish the ‘fiveyear rule’ – a good idea at first sight – obliging every highlevel Commission civil servant to leave his or her post right at the moment when they had learned to master it, in order to put them in charge of a policy area where they have less competence, or even no competence at all.

Now all of a sudden there is disruption, with each commissioner being asked to designate three candidates for a post of directorgeneral. Eightyfour names will be pulled out of a hat, but how many will be chosen in the end? And how many will be left frustrated? How much energy will have been wasted getting onto the list? This is certainly a case of ‘untangling the web’!

 

Interinstitutional agreement drowned in better regulation

Seven hundred pages – that is how big the better regulation package is. Put simply, we can separate it into two parts. First of all, there is the draft interinstitutional agreement, which will have to be negotiated and adopted on the basis of a consensus between the three main institutions. Secondly, we have a series of communications and guidance documents on new rules of EU governance.

The first problem we see is that the draft interinstitutional agreement puts most of the difficult issues to one side and leaves them for later. Thus, the draft provides no real answer to the alignment of secondary legislation to a unified system (the omnibuses have been withdrawn), nor does it set down a strict boundary between delegated acts and implementing acts. Moreover, it brings no solution to the democratic deficit inherent in the way legislative acts are adopted via threeway talks at first reading.

The draft interinstitutional agreement and the related communications suggest multiplying the number of impact assessments carried out at the drafting and adoption phases, as well as the implementation phase for delegated acts. Without altering Article 290 TFEU, delegated acts will be subject to a number of consultations, where the views submitted will be nonbinding. In other words, it will slow down the process for adopting delegated acts (a fasttrack system by its nature) and it adds bureaucratic layers to everything, blocking decisions instead of facilitating them.

 

Goal should be strengthening the legislators

The postLisbon system – which will be strengthened by the interinstitutional agreement (unless it is doubted in its current form) – once again reinforces bureaucracy at the expense of the political level. The EU has been suffering from this imbalance for more than ten years. The colegislators have to enter into dialogue and retake the initiative. It is not right for the member states to refuse to align the preLisbon regulatory procedure with scrutiny to the system of delegated and implementing acts. It is not right for the European Parliament to take such a distorted view of delegated acts.

The Commission, which is first and foremost an administration, tends by its very nature towards bureaucracy. There is an urgent need for the legislators to rise to the challenge.

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