So the ‘debate’ about the future President of the European Union advances apace. According to EUObserver today some sort of behind-the-scenes deal has been struck between France, Germany and the UK meaning that no country will pursue a nomination opposed by one of the other two. So curtains for Blair the article speculates.
But just stop. Stop. Get a grip people. I don’t actually give a damn whether some sort of deal prevents the nomination of Blair, or – frankly – the nomination of Juncker, Rasmussen or Dr Spock. What I object to is that this debate about the future direction of the EU for 2009 is going so completely and utterly in the wrong direction. How does EUObserver, run by eurosceptic Jens Peter Bonde’s wife, give the impression that all of this is just business as usual? There’s no mention whatsoever of the terribly glaring lack of democratic legitimacy of the European Council position.
How the hell has everyone been banging on about the EU’s democratic deficit for more than a decade, and now is so willing to talk up a position that has no democratic legitimacy?
There’s even this terrible line in the EUObserver article: “The position of the EU’s president is contained in the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty under the official heading of President of the European Council.” No. There is no damned position of EU President in the Treaty of Lisbon – and if any job is to have this mantra it should be the President of the European Commission.
And so to them, those 27 Commissioners in the picture above. How does each and every one of them react when they read all over the place that the EU is going to get its first President – in the European Council and not the Commission? Without so much even as a whimper. Margot WallstrÃ¶m is the only one to have vaguely put her head above the parapet and called for women candidates for the top positions, but what Commissioner has dared put the case for the Commission? We’re approved by the European Parliament they should be saying. We have 24000 civil servants working for us. The head of our institution – the President of the European Commission – should be the President of the EU.
Ask yourself this: would Jacques Delors, or even Romano Prodi, have allowed all of this to be happening without some very robust public statements defending the predominant role of the European Commission? Delors must be tearing out his remaining greying hairs as his beloved institution is increasingly eclipsed.
[UPDATE – 22.04.08]
This is a bit more like it – chair of the EP’s Budgets Committee, Reimer BÃ¶ge, has stated that the EP might be willing to use the time-honoured tradition of leveraging the EP’s budgetary powers to deliver a political outcome – in this case restricting the staff and perks available to the President of the European Council. Elmar Brok has even advocated ending the gentleman’s agreement between EP and Council on staffing budgets with regard to this issue. Maybe just bluster, but I’m relieved someone is saying these things.