Elect the Commission

Published on 16 December 2011 at 15:23

In recent days, we have often read that the problem of timing — with governments, and in particular Berlin, taking way too long to decide on what action to take — is one of the reasons why the debt crisis in the Eurozone has come close to breaking up the single currency.

And when governments respond, they do so in a half-hearted fashion: by waiting for the Franco-German couple to take the initiative.

Willingly or perhaps not so willingly manning the helm, “Merkozy” has managed to pilot the euro through the shoals of the crisis — at least until now.

At the same time, their management of the emergency and the developments to come have enshrined the triumph of the intergovernmental method, favoured by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as the President of the European Council and adroit weaver of compromises, Herman Van Rompuy.

Receive the best of European journalism straight to your inbox every Thursday

It is a method that has its advantages — we can react more rapidly, more effectively, and more legitimately when decisions are taken by government leaders — and its disadvantages: the absence of transparency and the de facto marginalisation of “small” countries.

The other drawback is that the intergovernmental method has sidelined community institutions (the European Commission and Parliament) to the point where it has weakened the entire EU, which is now perceived by the public as a part of the problem rather than the solution.

In spite of José Manuel Barroso’s demands for a more important role for the Commission — with, as a first step, control over the observance of the new pact for the euro — the institution he presides continues to viewed by commentators and a significant section of public opinion as a club of non-elected bureaucrats, which assumes that it can tell sovereign governments how to manage their budgets, and even how to apply austerity measures that are deemed to be inevitable.

This is the main disadvantage of the organisation that is supposed to embody European governance. Although they benefit from the approval of the European parliament, the European commissioners are not elected by citizens, but designated by member states.

This lack of direct suffrage has caused many Europeans to question the legitimacy of their actions. That is why it is desirable that they should be elected, either directly by citizens, or, perhaps more realistically in the short-term, by the members of the European Parliament.

Was this article useful? If so we are delighted! It is freely available because we believe that the right to free and independent information is essential for democracy. But this right is not guaranteed forever, and independence comes at a cost. We need your support in order to continue publishing independent, multilingual news for all Europeans. Discover our membership offers and their exclusive benefits and become a member of our community now!

Are you a news organisation, a business, an association or a foundation? Check out our bespoke editorial and translation services.

Support independent European journalism

European democracy needs independent media. Join our community!

On the same topic