Thursday

15th Nov 2018

No prolonged mandate for Barroso, MEPs warn

  • Fewer MEPs, fewer commissioners, argues a Spanish deputy (Photo: European Parliament)

If the Lisbon Treaty is not in place by June 2009, member states should keep their word on slimming down the European Commission, centre-right MEPs have argued, warning that parliamentarians would be reluctant to support a prolonged mandate for the current team of commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"Time is against us," Spanish conservative deputy Inigo Mendez de Vigo from the constitutional affairs committee in the European Parliament told journalists on Thursday (9 October), following this week's visit by the Irish foreign minister Micheal Martin in Brussels.

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

Ireland was originally supposed to indicate what it wants to do about the Lisbon Treaty, a reform of the 27-strong Union that was rejected in June by Irish voters, to the heads of states and governments set to gather for a two-day summit on 15 October.

But Mr Martin confirmed to MEPs on Monday (6 October) that Dublin needs time for "comprehensive research" and only by December does the country "expect to be able... to outline the necessary steps to achieve our objective of continued full engagement in the Union."

Mr de Vigo thinks, however, that it would be too late for the new institutional set-up to come into effect before the European elections in June, meaning that the pre-vote campaign would be again focused on the treaty rather than on other issues of concern for EU citizens.

Moreover, it would mean that the bloc's assembly would be elected under the current Nice Treaty with a different distribution of seats - 736 instead of 751 MEPs with fewer seats for 12 member states - and less power than envisaged by the reform document.

If that is the case, argued Mr de Vigo, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP-ED), the biggest parliamentary group in the 785-member legislature, would press for the rules on the composition of the EU executive also to be respected.

Under the Nice Treaty, "the European Council [heads of states and governments] will have to take a unanimous decision to reduce the number of commissioners. Are they ready to do that?" the Spanish deputy asked rhetorically.

"The EPP will be against any prolongation of the mandate of the current commission. We will not accept having the Nice Treaty on the number of seats in the parliament, and the European Council not taking a decision on the reduction of the number of commissioners that is also in the Nice Treaty."

Mr de Vigo hinted that some other political groups may follow suit in requiring this condition be maintained.

But according to one commission official, it is widely expected in the EU executive that the national capitals will agree to keep 27 commissioners, one each per member state.

UK worries

Also present at the media briefing, a German conservative member of the constitutional committee, Elmar Brok, pointed out that the Lisbon Treaty is the last chance for Europe's major institutional reform to be adopted this decade.

"I believe that in the next ten years in Britain, no ratification is possible. Not anything with major changes. If we don't get this, we get nothing," Mr Brok declared.

He referred to the strongly Eurosceptic positions of many in the UK's opposition Conservative party, which is expected to win the next elections in the country, due in September 2010 at the latest.

"If the Lisbon treaty is not ratified and on the table at the point we take office, then, of course, we would hold a referendum," the Conservative shadow foreign secretary William Hague was quoted as saying by British media last month.

The reform treaty has so far been ratified by 23 member states, with German President Horst Kohler's spokesperson announcing on Wednesday (9 October) that he would give a final nod to the document after a "thorough analysis" with legal experts.

Apart from final and unproblematic formalities expected in Poland and Sweden, the Czech Republic is the only country still waiting for the response of its constitutional court on whether the Lisbon Treaty is in line with the Czech charter.

The two Conservative MEPs believe that once all other member states have ratified the reform treaty, it would be easier for Irish politicians to put it forward to the country's voters for another vote, possibly with clarifications on sensitive issues such as Ireland's neutrality or sovereignty over tax or family law decisions.

EU symbols

Separately, with the fate of the Lisbon Treaty still unclear, the European Parliament on Wednesday decided to officially recognise EU flag, anthem and motto as the symbols of the bloc's plenary.

The flag, a circle of twelve golden stars on a blue background, will be now displayed in all parliament's meeting rooms and at official events.

The anthem, based on the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, will be performed at the opening ceremony following each European election and at formal sittings.

The motto, "United in diversity", will be reproduced on all Parliament's official documents, and the celebration of Europe Day on 9 May will be also formally recognised, says a report approved by 503 votes in favour 96 against and 15 abstentions.

The symbols were first officially referred to by the European Constitution, a document rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 and replaced by the Lisbon Treaty, which does not mention them.

Exclusive

EU commission redacted too much in 'WiFi4EU' papers

Secretariat-general of the European Commission decides that information redacted by directorate-general Communications Networks, Content and Technology should have been made public.

Mogherini's tech experts talk more freely in secret

The EU's foreign service says there are no "records" of the Global Tech Panel meetings, but acknowledged foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini writes summary letters. Five MEPs worried about killer robots suggest the panel's composition is skewed.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  2. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  3. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  4. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  5. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  6. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  7. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  8. EU to review animal welfare strategy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us