Are you sick of having a useless and smug President of the European Commission? Someone that has stood by as 3 countries have voted No in referendums on EU questions? Think it’s time for a bit of democracy to determine how the head of Europe’s executive is selected? Well essentially you should back Anyone But Barroso – the campaign for those people that reckon they have had enough of José Manuel Barroso as President of the European Commission.

The Facebook Group is already running, and we need help with the content of the website for the campaign. If you want some more arguments have a look at Jean Quatremer’s blog (in French)

30 Comments

  1. Pingback: Un Européen jamais content » Blog Archive » Qui aura la peau de Jose Manuel Barroso?

  2. Sorry, Richard, with respect I don’t think everything the EU does is fantastic. There is a load of rubbish too, and I write about plenty of that here. It’s just that – even with Barroso etc. – I think that having the EU, even as it is, is better than not having it at all.

    I don’t fall into one of the traditional pro vs. anti camps.

  3. Richard P

    Jon

    Of course Barrosa is smug and complacent. Because he knows twats like you (and me) have no earthly way of removing him from his nice comfy post as head of the EU, with substantial perks and a big fat pay cheque and pension.

    Its called democracy.

    And there is no democracy in the EU.

    So why people like you (not me) keep on thinking the EU is such a wonderful thing is beyond me.

  4. Thiry,

    Oui, c’est vrai qu’il faut changer de voie politique, mais le problème n’est pas Barroso, c’est le système anti-democratique de l’UE.

    L’UE a suivi une politique de dérégulation parce que cette politique est contre la souveraineté des états membres, qui est le seul obstacle du globalismedu modèle anglo-saxon.

  5. Je n’ai pas lu tout ce que vous avez écrit sur Barroso.
    Je ne sais qu’une chose, cet homme est un ultralibéral. Il mit l’europe à genoux et dans l’ornière où elle se trouve à l’heure actuelle. A écouter tous ses pairs, ils vont nous sauver. La droite et une mauvaise gauche ont tout privatisé. Maintenant que la libre concurrence à outrance, que la dérégulation et autres mensonges ont montré leurs limites et leur échec, il est peut-être temps de changer de voie politique. Si nous gardons Mr Barroso, nous continuerons à jouer du mauvais côté. Il a prouvé son incompétence. A nous de mettre quelqu’un d’autre qui ne pourra qu’être plus valable à sa place.
    Bonne soirée à toutes et tous, et bon choix.

  6. Central Scrutiniser,

    Everywhere the connection between politically elected ministers or boards and civil servants is a complicated issue.

    But there is no denying that the European Commission is a political actor in an increasing number of policy areas. Ultimately, the impartial and technocratic model does not fly.

    Ideally, the Commission should be accountable to and elected by the European Parliament, itself elected by the citizens of the EU.

    But in spite of politically accountable “ministers” the Commission would be a civil service.

    I agree in that I trust unelected judges and civil servants more than elected ones.

    Without thinking deeper about the merits of elections as a panacea, I once wrote a blog post about the unelected House of Lords supporting the unelected Commission.

    The EU Committee of the House of Lords does quality work on many EU issues, and the same can be said about the Commission in many cases (despite somewhat worrying trends towards secretariat status).

    Anyway, failure to open up a real competition for the post of President of the Commission is a fundamental self-indictment by the European political parties.

    I hope that the European blogosphere will keep reminding them of this daily.

  7. Central Scrutiniser

    I can only agree with Ralf on this last point. Taken together the eurobloggers deserve credit for for bringing forward an issue that otherwise would not be so fully debated. Democracy, as Churchill pointed out, has little in its favour until you compare it to the alternatives. Partisan behaviour is part of democracy, however mean and petty it may appear.

    A permanent, professional, independent civil service is a necessary component of democracy – and that is pretty much what you have in the Commission. The Commissioners themselves are in that sense something of a compromise, being appointed by the elected leaders of the nation states that comprise Europe instead of rising through the ranks of the service on merit.

    This compromise allows Commissioners a legitimate political role which often appears odd to any student of public administration in the UK. But it doesn’t look odd to a student of French or German public administration.

    Perhaps we should be bolder in our notions of democracy and follow the US model where all public officials of high rank are elected. But the idea of democratically elected police chiefs and judges does not appeal to me. I want qualified professionals running these public services under the responsibility of someone who is subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

    I don’t hear anyone calling for democratic elections to select the Judges of the Court of Justice.

  8. Trooper Thompson,

    As long as the EU citizens are unable to set the course and elect the rulers the European Union has some, but not enough legitimacy.

    The Anyone But Barroso campaign seeks progress in one important aspect of EU democracy, and for this Jon Worth and a number of eurobloggers deserve credit.

  9. Ralf,

    “I understand your belief in the nation state and the sense of belonging it can give”

    More than this, I believe that without a sovereign state there can be no democracy.

    My country and yours are not democratic – they have a measure of democracy but no more than this. It is and has always been balanced by other forces and powers, perhaps necessarily so to constrain the unruly mob.

    Nevertheless the degree of democracy is diminishing, as sovereignty is dismantled by the globalist elite, and terrorism is used to scare the dumbed-down public to give up its rights and acquiese in the construction of an Orwellian control grid.

    As for the ‘consensus in the European Union’, this exists amongst the bureaucratic and political classes, but not amongst the people, who are not consulted. Political legitimacy requires the consent of the people, and as long as the people are denied the opportunity to give or refuse this consent, the EU project will have no legitimacy.

  10. Trooper Thompson,

    I understand your belief in the nation state and the sense of belonging it can give, but even the former European great powers are becoming pawns on the international stage if they are unable to pool their resources more effectively and legitimately.

    Our current political leaders have managed to establish only half-measures – a hobbled giant, as the NIC put it.

    ‘Anyone But Barroso’ is an attempt to put into practice even one small democratic aspect, i.e. taking into account the results of the European elections when appointing the President of the Commission.

    Since the European Convention in 2003, there is a political consensus in the European Union to take this step forward, so it is worrying that the European level political parties have not been willing or able to field top candidates for the June 2009 elections.

    This partial reform would still leave the Commission filled with national appointees, without creating a politically accountable executive, so one is reminded of the tortuous road towards British democracy.

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  12. Ralf,

    I believe in the nation state. That’s my viable answer: a free, sovereign, democratic country, living at peace with its neighbours. This is not, I would add, an accurate description of my country, which is getting worse by the day.

    The anti-EU campaigners and movements that you refer to have very little political power. In the UK all the main parties support the EU, and can happily ignore the public’s views on the subject, as shown by the UK government’s decision to cancel the referendum on the Constitution.

    The EU has advanced by denying and undermining democracy. There is absolutely no reason to think that this will change.

    The EU resembles not a nation state, but an empire. This was the term Barroso himself used. Empires are not democratic, nor have they ever been.

    Anyway, all the best in your endeavours (no matter how futile) to democratise the EU.

  13. Trooper Thompson,

    As long as anti-EU campaigners and movements have no viable answers to the security challenges in an increasingly risky world, they are misleading the public to the detriment of our common interests.

    Thinking about the fundamentals should start in your home too.

  14. Ralf,

    I do not believe that the EU will ever be democratic. In fact, I see democracy under grave threat everywhere, which is why I believe it is important to fight for it at the national (and the local) level., where at least there is some semblance of a democratic tradition.

    Already we have the situation where the MPs elected to our Parliament are unable to make changes to laws covering large areas of policy, because those laws are set at the undemocratic EU level. In this way, the EU is instrumental in the death of democracy (there are other factors certainly) across the EU nations.

    You are calling for Caesar to save you from the petty tyranny of the local king. Caesar will end this petty tyranny, by bringing an even greater tyranny. Democracy, like so many things, must begin at home.

  15. Trooper Thompson,

    For once we seem to be in agreement. At the present time EU level democracy can be described as a laughing matter, or a half-measure.

    This is the result of the basic structure of the European Union, primarily founded on member states rather than on its citizens.

    Explained as a double legitimacy, the arrangement falls short of democratic expectations.

    But we have to look ahead, knowing that parliamentary democracy did not become established in a day at national level.

    The nation states are ever less able to deliver security and prosperity for their citizens in a turbulent world with rising new powers.

    Thus, a European Union with real powers is in the interest of EU citizens.

    It is hard to legitimise real powers without real democracy at European level.

    In other words, we need profound reform: a European Union based on its citizens and with real means to tackle the challenges.

  16. The EU democratic? What a hoot.

  17. You’re not taking David Miliband away from Britain. We still need him! 😉

  18. Central Scrutiniser

    There is no contradiction here.

    Jacques Delors’ Presidency still represents the benchmark for what the Commission can achieve under a chief who combines both political vision and first class administrative ability, a rare combination in European affairs. And if it is hard to find someone like that for the Commission Presidency what hope of candidate MEPs who really understand how Europe works?

    If the left was really interested in the mechanics of democracy – and here the administration of Europe is inseparable from its politics, indeed its fundamental values – it would be making an issue out of the absurd burdens under which the language services now struggle, for example. Making the law available to the citizen in his or her own language is more than just an administrative task of translation.

    The anyone but … campaign is flawed because it will attract and give succour to the anti-EU per se crowd.
    It was too great a focus on whom we didn’t want that brought us the Barroso Presidency.

  19. This is ludicrous.

    (1) First of all there is only one known candidate currently – Barroso again – and so a critique of what he (hasn’t) done is needed. It’s necessary to explain why the status quo is not right, as well as proposing alternatives – a number of which I have listed in the previous comment.

    (2) “You lefties need to get your act together at a political level” – couldn’t agree more. But, quite frankly, I haven’t got a clue how to do this other than via a web campaign. How do you persuade a bunch of weak leaders with no backbones to do something? You use whatever means you have available to you, and a web campaign is part of that.

    (3) Admin vs. the politicians – you contradict yourself wonderfully by citing Delors here. Delors, by linking the need for administration in the Commission and the push for the Single Market managed more in the Commission than anyone else has done. As the Member States currently want the Commission to have less resources then you need a decent Commission President to push them back – i.e. not Barroso

    As for whether this campaign is irrelevant – no, far from it. If the EU is to become democratic we need some partisan accountability of the EU’s executive, and linking the result of the EP elections with the choice of Commission President is the way. At the moment everyone is too blasé about Barroso – he does not have a good record, and precisely because of that he’ll be back for another term.

  20. Central Scrutiniser

    These thoughts remind me of the ‘Up yours Delors’ article in The Sun. It is comforting and easy to agree on what you don’t want.

    Seriously, you lefties need to get your act together at the political level. Not that it will make a huge difference to the political work of the Commission, which goes on regardless of which political grouping is in charge. But it would be very good if you could conjure up another Jacques Delors.

    The Commission has a political job to do – building Europe – and rarely has the political affiliation of Presidents, Vice-Presidents or Comissioners deflected it from doing that job. At best they may influence the pace and vigour.

    What really constrains the Commission is the lack of administrative resources to implement its existing policies and laws across the EU 27. Each year the portfolio and the operating budget grow but the means to administer and implement them remain more or less the same.

    So in this context your campaign seems rather irrelevant to Europe. Indeed it appears mean, partisan and petty.

  21. Jon,

    Actually we are fairly much in agreement. Even the Anyone But Barroso headline manages to make the problem known and discussed.

    But at the same time it reveals our total lack of power as EU citizens. There may be millions of better candidates out there, but if the political parties at European level do not launch them, they are just pipe dreams.

    For many members of the European Council it may be convenient to nominate a Commission President who ensures that the Commission continues on its road to becoming a mere Secretariat of the Council.

    But with the Commission’s lack of preparation to tackle the financial crisis and the economic recession, I wonder if even the EPP can be happy about the alleged choice of a number of heads of government or state.

    As for the other EU level parties, if they fall in line behind Barroso, without fielding their own candidates for the top spot, they fail miserably as political movements.

    Sadly, it looks like the European elections 2009 will become a missed opportunity for EU level democracy, with the EU level parties failing in their primary task (and the following European Parliament, too).

    The probable outcome: A long hibernation for EU level democracy and gains for anti-EU populists.

    Even if I am powerless to launch one or more good candidates for the Commission Presidency, the candidates on offer are going to be my main criteria when I cast my vote in June 2009.

  22. Oh, as for Charlie McCreevy – I don’t think he’s running for another term… If there is rumour of that then I’ll run Anyone But McCreevy as well.

  23. Agh, come on, you can’t be that weedy! There are masses of better candidates – I have previously argued for Pascal Lamy but I would also be fine with:

    – Guy Verhofstadt
    – Graham Watson
    – Poul Nyrup Rasmussen
    РMargot Wallstr̦m
    – David Miliband
    – Paavo Lipponen
    – Anders Føgh Rasmussen
    – Aleksander KwaÅ›niewski

    I’m sure there are plenty more than that.

    Above all Europe needs a choice, not just a lazy reappointment of the same old inadequate candidate.

    Barroso is the epitomizes the compromise choice, and you criticize me for something you think will give something worse? Get real!

  24. I agree with Ralf.. an “anyone but Barroso” campaign is really a negative one, and with that kind of attitude, all we would end up with is another compromise candidate. If you want Barosso replaced, then suggest a better candidate.

  25. Jon,

    I understand some of the frustration behind launching a campaign, but as long as there are no viable options but to oppose Barroso, it does not fly.

    If the European level parties are really going to take the coming European elections without launching their own candidates for Commission President, and if the 2009 European Parliament is going to rubber-stamp the nomination of the national government leaders, EU level democracy and EU citizens lose out.

    Let Barroso be in the running, but don’t let the other EU level parties commit treason against us citizens.

    No to Barroso is not enough. We need candidates!

  26. I do not know why Barroso is such a big issue. If there was one Commissioner whose removal I would support, it is Charlie McCreevy’s.

  27. “Hey Barroso is a nice guy!”

    Sure, I would certainly enjoy having a drink with him at the pub but I object his being president of the European Commission.

    The general outcome of Barroso’s presidency is very poor.

    The European Commission is supposed to lead the way for European integration and to put forward proposals in favour of European citizens. Instead, Mr. Barroso behaved as a servent of the Council.

    In 2005, many projects for European laws were withdrawn. This move included projects that may have helped to build a citizen’s Europe such as the statute for European associations. This move was made without involving our elected representatives in the European Parliament. It was both a move reflecting both an anti-regulation stance and a weird and unefficient way to appease some eurosceptics.

    Many of his comments seem to imply that the Union needs no institutional reform nor a European constitution. His lack of commitment to defend change in the way the EU is ruled is appalling. He did not even show up to defend the constitutional treaty in the French referendum campaign, reinforcing the image of the EU as a faceless technocracy rather than a democratic political body. Mr. Barroso is a kind of ghost president, never to be seen when citizens need to hear from the EU.

    It is to be remembered the Mr. Barroso was appointed as the lowest common denominator by outside commentators, because of the opposition of some eurosceptic governments to a better candidate. Should the EU retain a mediocre president for five more years just because our heads of state and government do not want to spend a weekend debatting about a new president ?

    It is to be remembered that he supported the war in Irak.

    It is to be remembered that he was very slow in accepting to remove the proposal for Rocco Buttiglione as European Commissioner for “Justice, Freedom and Security” despite the opposition of our elected representatives in the European Parliament.

    Overall Mr. Barroso has done a very poor job as president of the European Commission. He has weakened this key institution through his servile behaviour to the Council. Europe now lacks the leadership and the vision it used to have.

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  29. Hey Barroso is a nice guy!

    What do you have against him?
    Has he done any harm to you?
    Did he ever disturb you on a Sunday morning?
    Has he ever hurt your feelings with one of his speeches?

    From my side, I can answer the last three questions with a no. He is a nice politician, because he doesn’t interfere too much in my life. He sits next to our leaders and does what they tell him. He is not a maverick (like John McCain). With him, the European Union does not get more influence, which is good for those of us who profit from the competition between our member states.

    I want to stay on the side of the winners, and Barroso is definitely playing for the winning team (although he his a member of the one that is going to lose).

  30. What surprises me is the unwillingness of the Left to fight the battle for the European elections.

    If it does not support an alternative candidat, why should anyone at all bother to vote for the PSE ?

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