Schuman Project  



The European Commission  # 2

Should it be the retirement home

for failed/ unwanted/discredited/ hard-up politicians?

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When the Irish voted No in their referendum of June 2008, many commentators said that they reacted because they did not want to lose 'their national Commissioner'. Nearly all States have former politicians in the European Commission.

Let us start by dispensing with two myths.

Firstly, no treaty in all the history of European integration says that any State should even have a national representative in the Commission. Secondly, seeing that is the case, it follows that no treaty says that a State’s representative should be an ex-politician, disgraced politicians or any politician of any size, shape, colour, form, gender or age.

The treaties say the reverse. They say with a unanimous voice that the members of the Commission should take absolutely NO instructions from the government of which they may be a national. Thus any Commissioner of French nationality should not take or solicit instructions from the French government. Can everyone even a politician understand that? Nor should the Commissioners ‘solicit instructions’ from any group, whether political, commercial, or any form of association. Is that clear? The members of the Commission should be INDEPENDENT.

The treaties are so clear that it is a wonder that anyone could have the slightest doubt. It should be a source of amazement and wonder to behold that the present European Commission. It is stuffed to the gunnels with national politicians!! Further there are 27 of them  — whose nationalities correspond exactly to the nationalities of the 27 Member States!

Who has the impudence to place national politicians as their members of the Commission? Why no one but Europe’s ‘democratic’ national leaders, apparently democratically elected, of 27 democratic governments. Many have university degrees in law and politics. These are the people who should be policing the treaties to see the articles are respected! Are any of them honest? It would take only ONE to say: ‘Hey wait a minute fellow prime ministers. What we are doing is WRONG. The treaties say that we should not be doing this!

I, and many European citizens, are still waiting for that honest man or woman to open his mouth.

Read the Treaties!

Here’s what Europe’s founding treaty says: “Members  … shall exercise their functions in complete independence, in the general interest of the Community. In the fulfillment of their duties, they shall neither solicit nor accept instructions from any government or from any organization. They shall abstain from all conduct incompatible with the supranational character of their functions.”  (Treaty of Paris, article 9).

In the next line the treaty forbids the governments from trying to influence the Members. “Each Member State undertakes to respect this supranational character and not to seek to influence the members … in the execution of their duties.”

The present Nice Treaty says much the same thing … with one exception. Nationalists and Gaullists feared or objected to the word, supranational. Supranational democracy was one thing they did not want. Why? It would quickly show them up as less than democratic at home! They therefore caused this word to be struck out at the first revision of the treaties.

It was a futile gesture. The meaning is the same. Supranational means that the Commission is totally independent of all interests. The main text remains. No government had the audacity to try to substitute it with a phrase that said: ‘Member States have the right to influence a Commissioner especially if the Commissioner is of the same nationality and it is a Gaullist government or nationalist government of that ilk.’  That would be just like saying we have the right to bribe the referee in a football match.

In theory, in law and by agreement in this compact made between all democratic member states, Commission Members remain free to make proposals subject only to their own judgement (which should be based on wide European experience and impartial information) and their conscience. They have to form judgements based on talking out questions of Europe in detail in conjunction with the other members, exercising the same faculties of honesty, analysis and non-ideological deductions.

Some 500 million people are watching and judging them as to whether they are independent. Some pass the test; others fail. It is far too tempting for Commissioners to assume they must become a champion for a particular interest group or political ideology. For those outside such interest groups, they look as trustworthy as a crooked cop. 

For national leaders, selecting the Commission presents them with another temptation. What better place to create high-paid jobs for the political boys and girls that they did not want at home, than to send them to Brussels? The voting public on the other hand has now got a real Litmus test to show whether politicians at home are really honest. Do they insist that the Commission should not be a dumping ground for politicians? See what has happened in the last decade since new treaties began to be discussed! In recent years hardly one has passed the test. We are in a period not so much of a democratic deficit but a ‘surplus of arrogance, as one commissioner called it.

What is the Commission for?

is it to represent political parties or government systems?

a way to ease out unwanted political colleagues?

to provide a healthy pension at the end of a career?

to act as a representative for industrial lobbies?

to protect the workers by close ties to unions?

to introduce reform that is in a party political programme but can't be introduced in the national parliament?

to make contacts with European industry so that a politician can get an even fatter job by resigning early?

to provide a speaker with European credentials to rally votes at national elections?

to provide a training ground for a future lobbyist and wheeler-dealer?

to manipulate European money that cannot be got at a national level for the party?

to make sure that money goes to a local favoured region?

to create 'research' and work projects for  special interests?

to build the army of contractors to eliminate an independent civil service?

to stop other nations complaining about the member's State?

to block anti-corruption investigations at a European level?

to make sure that favoured cartels and interests are not investigated?

to provide other jobs for the party 'boys and girls' by 'parachuting' them in as advisers and contractors?

to be the long-arm of the government back home?

to work with party buddies in the European Parliament to execute plans cooked up in secret?




The Commission is there to:   a) propose European legislation of common interest    b) execute democratically agreed policy;   c) act as guardian of the Treaties.