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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why not shrink the European Commission?

The online edition of German weekly Der Spiegel reports on "secret" plans by EU heads of state and government to stick to the 'one country, one EU Commissioner' principle, despite the number of Commissioners being set to rise to 28 following Croatia's entry in July.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, from November 2014, the number of Commissioners is supposed to correspond to two-thirds of member states, but national governments can agree to keep things as they are by unanimous decision. Der Spiegel estimates that keeping 28 Commissioners instead of 19 would come at an extra cost to European taxpayers of at least €13.5 million a year. So why, the article asks, are Germany, France and the UK keen to keep one Commissioner per country?

A couple of points need to be made here.
  • The plans are hardly a secret. Going back to the days of the second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, Ireland was given reassurances that the 'one country, one EU Commissioner' principle would stay (see the conclusions of the June 2009 European Council summit). Also, a European Council decision on the subject was drafted last October - and only needs to be rubber-stamped by EU leaders (see here).
That being said it is increasingly hard to defend the growing size of the EU Commission, not least because it gets increasingly difficult to find a credible portfolio for everyone. To accommodate for Croatia's entry, for instance, the Health and Consumer Protection portfolio will be split into two separate posts.

The big question is, would it be so bad if the number of Commissioners was reduced and the proliferation of Commission DGs slim-lined into more rational departments?

True, smaller memebr states may take offence (larger ones like the UK would virtually be guaranteed a Commissioner). However, member states without a Commissioner for one rotation period could be given deputy Commissioners instead. Surely, there would be more influence to be had as Deputy Commissioner for Internal Market than as Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth?

Nevertheless, EU leaders look set to rubber-stamp the 'one country, one Commissioner' decision - so we'll continue to have 28 EU Commissioners after 2014. At the very least, if we are going to have an extra Commissioner, the European Commission should be obliged to find savings so net spending does not increase. Our report on reforming the EU budget from last June included some suggestions. 


Rik said...

The EU needs change imho and as priority no 1 (to make things really manageable and create a platform again that has gone lost). This most likley will only happen by a shock event. So basically how biggere the mess they make at this point.
Less Kroeses and more Greek fishwomen in that respect will most likley work. The more weird ideas and the more incompetent and disconnected the higher the chance that something happens.

Reelect Barosso. Useless as mediator always start exactly from the same point. Misses the plot on the PR front completely. Priority setting Pavlovian on increase EU powers (whoever you pi%# of in the process and even if there is no chance of achieving it in the particular situation).

Rollo said...

It will not start to lose weight until we starve it, however many Komissars they have. And it makes no difference which country they come from: they are not chosen by the inhabitants of that country anyway. Who chose Mandelson? None of us, he was only selected on the basis of being too dishonest for the British Parliament, thus suiting Brussels perfectly.

christina speight said...

Next year we would be set to lose no less than 9 Commissioners with concosy sequentially less meddling and less cost. If we are not vetoing any attempt to keep the numbers up to 1 per satellite country then we can see that the UK government prefers the cosy love-in with the crooks of Brissels to the honest swivelled-eyed patriots here.

Anonymous said...

Eurofascist Open Europe continuing to do all that it can to keep the UK trapped inside the EUSSR prison.

the folks at Open Europe must really, really enjoy Stalin's work.

A. van der Sluijs said...

Read in the papers this morning that UK Cabinet has 30 members!!

So what is the poblem?


Anonymous said...

So the Assurances Ireland were given are not yet rubber stamped. WOW what an assurance! Typical EU.

I know OpenEurope will never advocate leaving the EU, whatever the circumstances, but does Open Europe realise that its the Commission that is the Nail in the Head of us Brits. No matter how many commissioners, it is the least democratic system in the world except dictatorships!

Even when Open Europe say that when people are asked about repatriating powers there seems to be more apetite for that, this is only because we are sensible people who say "Well lets see what Dave Cameron comes up with". We dont expect he will get the commission to be "Decomissioned" but anything else - is just not enough!

christina speight said...

A. van der Sluijs said...
"Read in the papers this morning that UK Cabinet has 30 members!!

So what is the poblem?|"

Simple -- OUR ministers are elected by US to rule us. The Commissioners are appointed without any election by foreigners. We want to rule ourselves.

Denis Cooper said...

Why not shrink the European Commission?

Because as part of the EU plan to induce the Irish to vote for the Lisbon Treaty on the second time of asking they were promised that it would not happen.

So if anybody wants to do it, shouldn't there be a re-run of the October 2009 referendum without that promise?

Or, design the shrinkage so that whatever the total number of Commissioners one of them would always be nominated by the Irish government.

This is another example of why it is folly to put any trust in anything that the EU may promise in order to suck people into giving it their support; less than four years since that promise was given to the Irish, and already there is talk of reneging on it.

Anonymous said...

yummy, more bureaucracy

Politic-Al said...

When will the people of the E.U. realise that the Commissionaires are an unelected group of politicians that are untouchable by the electorate. Their position is for life and they answer to no one.
This is not democracy.
The elected representatives of each E.U.country are in effect puppets of Brussels.

Anonymous said...

The "idea" to put as much power into the hands of as few unanswerable people controlled by banksters has been the EUSSR's plan for the past 60 years.

Dressing it up as a new idea and as a way to "cut bureaucracy" is just about as dishonest as anything you'd expect the EUSSR to vomit up.

BenC42 said...

It is not correct to state that, if the number of Commissioners was reduced then "larger [Member States] like the UK would virtually be guaranteed a Commissioner".

Whenever the European Council has discussed the idea of shrinking the size of the Commission, the smaller member states have insisted on a rotation system that would ensure equal treatment of all countries (regardless of population size).