Sunday

25th Jul 2021

Ministers ponder creation of EU super-president

Ideas kicking around in a reflection group of select EU foreign ministers include merging the roles of the EU Council and European Commission presidents.

A senior EU source told this website following a meeting of the club in the Val Duchesse stately home in Brussels on Thursday (19 April) that the new supremo would have more power than either Herman Van Rompuy or Jose Manuel Barroso do today but also more "democratic legitimacy" because he or she would be elected by MEPs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

In other reforms, the new figure would "streamline" the European Commission into a two-tier structure.

Every EU country would still have its own commissioner with their own vote in the college of 27 top officials.

But as in certain national administrations, some commissioners would have more than one dossier while others would be the equivalent of ministers without portfolio.

The new super-president would also chair General Affairs Councils (GACs) - monthly meetings of foreign ministers which discuss internal Union affairs.

"I have heard experts who say that it [the Van-Rompuy-Barroso merger] could be done without changing the [Lisbon] Treaty ... there is no appetite for a new Treaty," the EU source said.

The EU Council President post was created by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009.

But the Lisbon architecture is messy: Van Rompuy, for instance, oversees debate on EU fiscal reform, while Barroso's commission puts forward its own ideas and implements final decisions.

Van Rompuy and Barroso also represent the Union at international summits.

But Van Rompuy is top dog in terms of protocol, while the EU "high representative" - Catherine Ashton - does day-to-day foreign relations.

Manwhile, the GAC - an increasingly important policy-making body - is still chaired by a national minister from the rotating EU presidency.

The reflection group was formed by German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle in Berlin in March.

It plans to meet two more times before the summer recess and to circulate a discussion paper at EU27-level in September.

The other countries in the club are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The French minister did not attend Thursday's session, however.

The Val Duchesse event also included talks on "eurobonds" - the idea of mutualising EU government debt, a controversial one in Germany, where voters are hostile to paying more to borrow money so that weaker economies in the south can pay less.

"It could be acceptable for new projects but not to guarantee bad ones from the past, or old bad debt," the EU source said.

Barroso outlines 'comprehensive' roadmap to tackle eurozone crisis

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday outlined a five-point “roadmap” aimed at bringing an end to the eurozone crisis that has rattled world markets and threatened to drag the global economy into a second recession.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us