With one commissioner per member state, hierarchy needed

Gaspard Sebag, Europolitics, 11.04.2012

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With the scheduled entry of Croatia into the European Union in July 2013, the size of the College of Commissioners will increase to 28 members. This corresponds to the compromise arrangement used as a sweetener for the Irish to accept the Lisbon Treaty, whereby each member state has one commissioner. To Administration Commissioner Maros Sefcovic, this state of affairs is desirable in order for the sensibilities of each country to be taken into account. Several voices, including Alain Lamassoure (EPP, France), a member of the European Convention, argue that, failing to reduce the size of the college, there should be a much clearer hierarchy amongst commissioners. One problem: this would require a treaty change. […]

It all started with Irish voters’ ‘no’ to the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in June 2008. That spread a wind of panic threatening to nip the treaty in the bud. To save the day, a compromise was forged between EU leaders in December that year and a second referendum was organised for October 2009. It was agreed, amongst other things, to modify the provision providing that from November 2014 the number of commissioners in the college would be brought down to two thirds of the number of member states (1). Instead, each country will continue having its own commissioner. EPC (European Policy Centre) researcher Janis Emmanouilidis argues that this was not only a concession to the Irish. Other small member states also favoured such an arrangement in order to balance out the larger countries’ domination. […]

What can therefore be done to ensure a more effective management of the college? Lamassoure, Bertoncini and Emmanouilidis all agree that the Commission president should be given more leeway with regard to the organisation of the college. The key is to set up a clear hierarchy. In order to do so, it would be necessary to depart from the current situation and cut the umbilical cord between the college and member state governments. At the moment, the European Council proposes the candidate for Commission president to the EP and the Council, based on suggestions by member states and by common accord with the president-elect it adopts the list of members of the college. […]

For the entire article see here.


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