Thursday

21st Nov 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join 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.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Column

Why the EU can't do security and defence

What if the EU can't guarantee European security? In times when US physical presence does not make up for its mental absence, the question got urgent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  2. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  3. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears
  4. Finland: EU 'not brain dead' on enlargement
  5. The labour market is not ready for the future
  6. Parliament should have 'initiation' role
  7. AI skewed to young, male, and western EU, report warns
  8. US and EU go separate ways on Israeli settlers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us