Thursday

17th Jan 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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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.

MEPs redouble appeal on sexual harassment

The EU parliament's internal chiefs have so far refused to introduce mandatory training on dealing with sexual harassment. MEPs have now asked for it again.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us