The Robert Schuman Foundation has published a paper entitled: “Juncker or European added value: The positive legacy of the European Commission (2014-2019).”
One can never talk enough about the harm that subsidised associations do to the cause of the EU. Even for the most pro-European of Europeans, the Juncker Commission has been a failure in the sense that the traditional Commission as the engine of the “European car” has transformed into a mere secretariat of the European Council. The College of Commissioners, composed of eminent personalities, has resigned itself to keeping a low profile (see the Selmayr affair, for example).
A European Parliament more mature than the European Council
The European Council, composed of the Heads of State and Government, meets regularly to decide upon new EU leaders: President of the Commission, High Representative for Foreign and Security Affairs, and President of the European Council. A bit more of this, a bit less of that… Little concerned about the separation of powers, the European Council includes the nomination of the European Parliament President in its shortlist! What a curious time we live in…
More pragmatic, the Parliament is trying to build around the four dominant parties a common programme from which a president chosen by MEPs themselves should emerge, rather than chosen by unwise guardians. Therefore is a Parliament often considered more superficial and more frivolous giving a lesson to a European Council seen as more pragmatic and more realpolitik but in practice more concerned about precedents and respect for egos? The world has turned upside down.
Before choosing the “who”, first define the “what”
Perhaps it will be Vestager, perhaps Timmermans, or Manfred Weber, or Barnier? Yes, but what about the programme? The selection of the European Commission President is being organised as if the ship were sailing on a calm sea while a storm threatens nearby. There is indeed a storm in our internal waters that poses some major questions:
- First (and it is not a trivial point), will the current President impose his Secretary-general on the new one?
- What about Brexit? Would we prefer the British to remain? If so, what can we propose them?
- Can we accept long-term a loss of control over public debt (France, Italy, etc.)?
- Should we encourage the hopes of Albania, Serbia and even Kosovo about joining the EU?
- Should we not consider reform of the EU’s bureaucratic governance as a priority?
But also on the external level: a trade war with the USA, tensions in the Gulf, the spread of Chinese hegemony and a European Union on the defensive.
Those of you who rule us, I ask you: dare to choose leaders and not followers. And fix the CAP!