14th Apr 2024

German vice chancellor questions commission monopoly on EU law

  • Some MEPs are jealous about the commission's monopoly on proposing laws (Photo: European Commission)

The European Parliament should have greater rights to propose EU legislation, Germany's vice-chancellor Franz Muntefering has said in proposals going beyond the EU constitution promoted by Berlin.

"We should be asking ourselves the question who decides what is on the agenda in Europe. Only the [European] Commission? Something should change in this respect. More possibilities for political initiatives by the European Parliament would be good," Mr Muntefering, the second-highest member of the German government, told Sueddeutsche Zeitung over the weekend.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Mr Muntefering was referring to the commission's near-monopoly on initiating new EU laws, a principle which is enshrined in the current EU treaty with the aim of safeguarding the coherence of lawmaking in the multi-layered EU.

But the system is seen by some critics as undemocratic and causes frustration among MEPs who view the commission's monopoly with jealousy.

The draft EU constitution leaves most of the commission's monopoly of initiative intact, despite introducing a "citizens' initiative" whereby at least 1 million EU citizens can ask the commission to legislate in a certain area.

The EU constitution is strongly supported by the German EU presidency - but Mr Muntefering in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung interview called for reforms which go beyond what is proposed in the charter.

He also suggested that European elections should have a bigger influence on who should become European Commission president.

"Imagine that there were national elections in Germany, and this would not be about the eventual appointment of the chancellor. What would this mean for the turnout?", said Mr Muntefering.

Asked whether this means he supports the election of the commission president by the European Parliament, he said "at least we should think further whether the current system can remain so anonymous and indirect."

The criticism about the way the commission president is currently appointed - in opaque negotiations between EU capitals - echoes earlier proposals by French presidential hopeful and interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

But it is not reflected in the disputed EU constitution which does little to change the current procedure.

UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

EU and UK negotiators said that a new post-Brexit settlement for Gibraltar was just weeks away from completion following four-way talks in Brussels on Friday (12 April).

Ukraine's farmers slam EU import controls on food products

The paradoxical move to tighten EU import controls on agricultural goods from Ukraine, despite the EU's vocal support for Kyiv, has sparked criticism from Ukrainian farmers. Overall, it is estimated the new measures could cost the Ukrainian economy €330m.


Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation

As Amazon's founder Jeff Bezos just reclaimed the title of the richest person on Earth, its workers cannot even take a bathroom break under the pressure of meeting inhumane performance targets.


The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us