Thursday

4th Mar 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.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

News in Brief

  1. Northern Irish paramilitaries pressure UK and EU on Brexit
  2. Man injures 8 people with axe in Sweden in possible terrorist act
  3. France bans far-right vigilante group
  4. EU dismayed as Lukashenko jails doctor over his diagnosis
  5. Brussels proposes EU-wide 'disabled status' card by 2023
  6. Czechs seek outside help to treat Covid-19 patients
  7. German intelligence to spy on far-right AfD party
  8. Russia belittles latest EU and US sanctions

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 MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  2. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week
  3. Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves
  4. EU capitals water down MEPs' ambition in climate law
  5. The EU's perverse agenda in Bosnia
  6. US joins EU sanctions on Russia in show of unity
  7. EU needs to 'raise price' for attacking democracy, MEPs say
  8. EU Parliament to hold Frontex probe behind closed doors

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us