Thursday, October 7, 2010

The role of the EU Commission and national interests.

In  the aftermath of the Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty during the first referendum, one of the main points of concern of the Irish people was the loss of their Commissioner.

In the Treaty there was initially a plan to have a set number of Commissioners and not all countries would keep theirs. At any time, some countries would be left without a Commissioner, but there would be a rotation of the countries without one in every new EU Commission formed.

Taking into consideration the fears of the Irish electorate,  it was decided that each country will keep it’s Commissioner, after the Treaty was passed.

But what will that mean? The E.U. Commission by default, should not represent national interests. Therefore each state’s Commissioner, should not promote his/her country’s agenda. So while the Irish (and many other nations shared the same view) wished to keep their Commissioner, I am wondering what impact this will have in the future both of the Commission and EU.

First of all, the Commission will keep growing. Now we have 27 Commissioners, when Croatia and Iceland will join we will have 29. If the West Balkans join we will have 5 more Commissioners bringing their number to 34.

And if EU expands further to include Norway, Switzerland , Turkey, Moldova, Ukraine, the Caucasus Democracies and so on, we will have an ever growing number of Commissioners. That means that we will have to create more and more positions for them and not only them, but the myriads of their secretaries, spokes persons, assistance stuff etc as well. Who will pay for all their salaries? We will.

The second implication is that the Commission will act for ever as a chess mat for national interests. That means that not only the Commission will act against it’s original purpose, but there will be permanently a competition and antagonism of the member states, both in the Commission and EU. Some say that this is healthy and welcomed. But how can we achieve solidarity and unity this way?

That is the reason of the many failures of the EU so far, the internal ever lasting bickering of the member states that lead to inner squabbles, indecision, lack of initiatives and action. The EU is going in circles. And when more members will join, this antagonism will grow as well.We will thus need a very strong leadership in the Commission to deal with this and keep the peace, while keep the project working.

Do we need so many Commissioners? In my opinion no! The EU Commission should have a specific role, and that is not to lead the EU, or serve the national interests of each country. It should have a rather administrative role. Make sure that all member states comply with EU laws and legislation for example, to help member states follow the regulations. Or refer any member state that does not comply with the laws to the European High Court for prosecution or fining, and to propose EU legislation.

Not to represent the EU or take the whole task of decision making in Europe upon itself. For those purposes we have the European Parliament to vote for or against laws and legislation. We should have a permanent President elected by the people and a Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed by either the Council or the European Parliament.

I also do not understand the worry of the smaller countries, that by losing their permanent Commissioner, larger countries will have more say. The rules applies to all and even Germany, France and the United Kingdom won’t have a Commissioner for sometime in rotation.

But since the Commission is not what it should be and it is used for promoting national interests, then of course some countries are worried about losing out. My opinion is that the number of Commissioners should be specific and stable. So should their roles.

Only when we are ready to limit our national ambitions, the EU will work better for everybody. I do not mean to give up our national interests. Rather start thinking a bit more "European." The notion “I am pro-European because EU is good for my country” says it all I guess. I wish we could say “ I am pro-European, because I believe EU is good for all nations in Europe”.

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