15th Dec 2018

Super Commissioner to ensure coherency in enlarged EU

The decision by France, Germany and the UK to call for a super commissioner is an attempt to make sure a European Commission of 25 or more is coherent, said a top German government source.

There is little chance in the future of the Commission being reduced to a core team of about 15 members, which is a "regrettable development", said the official on Wednesday (18 February) following a meeting of the three countries' leaders.

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  • Who would have more power in the future - the Commission President or the super Commissioner? (Photo: EU Commission)

Speaking of the growing danger of there being "even more incoherence" with a bigger EU executive, the official said that it is all the more necessary to have somebody responsible for the whole of the Lisbon agenda - the EU’s goal of becoming the most dynamic economy in the world by 2010.

Germany has argued throughout the debate on the future European Constitution that the Commission, currently with 20 members and soon to have 25, should be reduced in size to make it more effective.

However, this was out of the question for most small countries who feared that all the influential posts would automatically go to larger countries.

"The low chance of getting a small Commission college now ... makes it even more necessary to [have] a co-ordinating job for the Lisbon strategy", said the official.

During their mini summit on Wednesday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his French and UK counterparts, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair, decided to send a letter to the Irish EU Presidency and the Commission asking that such a post be created.

"We call for the appointment of a Vice-President of the Commission to focus exclusively on economic reform", says the letter.

And in practice?

However, diplomats also conceded that the minutiae of the position have to be worked out.

It is not clear how such a super Commissioner, so strongly favoured by the three biggest countries in the EU, should interact with the Commission President.

It is also unclear to what extent there should be a hierarchy so that the new vice-president could ask the environment commissioner to co-ordinate on industry policy.

Creating such a post may be a way of counter-acting the argument by some commentators that the Commission will become so ineffective with so many members, that large EU governments will start to ignore it.

"Much of the detail still has to be cleared up", said the German government official but it would be for the next Commission and Commission President to decide.

More mini summits in the future

Despite criticism from other member states before the meeting, France, Germany and the UK are likely to meet in this format whenever there are difficult questions to resolve.

The three leaders felt the meeting was "fruitful and that strengthened dialogue in this format should continue in the future".

Similar trilateral meetings produced a common position on the EU chemicals legislation and on defence issues.

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