22nd Sep 2021

Sarkozy floats idea of joint commissioners

French president Nicolas Sarkozy is considering proposals that countries of "similar culture and language circle" should share a commissioner in the new model European Commission, according to German daily Die Welt, quoting high-level diplomatic "sources."

The question has arisen following Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in June, with work now ongoing behind the scenes to solve practical problems, such as the number of commissioners in the new Brussels secreteriat to take office in November 2009.

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Under the current Nice Treaty the commission must include a national of each member state, but the treaty also says that when the union consists of 27 countries the "commission shall be less than the number of member states."

With the accession of Romania and Bulgaria the European Union has reached the magic number of 27 member states, and the Nice Treaty foresees a rotation system for commissioners to kick in "based on the principle of equality" and provided member states agree "unanimously."

If the Lisbon Treaty is put in place after a potential second Irish referendum, the number of commissioners would automatically be reduced to two-thirds of member states from 2014. Based on the current 27 member states, this would result in nine EU countries no longer having a national representative in the union's engine room.

Reaching agreement on a new system will be a hard nut to crack, as member states zealously guard their influence in the legislative body of the European Union.

The French idea proposes that countries which share a common cultural heritage, such as Germany and Austria, Great Britain and Ireland or the Benelux countries could share a common commissioner, the German newspaper reports.

Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik came out as the first with a negative reaction, telling Austrian press that "It can not be a serious French proposal."

"The idea of combi-commissioners or half-half commissioners is not even a bad summer joke," she said.

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