9th Apr 2020

Giscard against parliament electing Commission president

The day after a lengthy debate in the Convention on future division of power in the EU where there was large consensus that the European parliament should elect the Commission president, the body's president has spoken out against it.

In an interview with Le Figaro on Tuesday, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing said that "the election of the Commission by the parliament risks ... a politization of the Commission." Maintaining that he is very "respectful" of the Convention and not trying to "predict" its conclusions, the president nevertheless went on to say that the Commission's "impartiality" would be affected.

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Both MEPs and federalists have reacted strongly to Mr Giscard's comments. Graham Watson liberal leader said that "asking the parliament simply to ratify the commission would be simply to confirm the status quo." Anne van Lancker, Belgian MEP, argues that the election of the Commission president would not lead to the executive being compromised. "It is already a political body," she said adding that it would always take more than one political party in the parliament to elect the president. Hanja Maij-Weggen, Dutch MEP, said it showed that Mr Giscard is trying to "concentrate power in the Council."

Federalists completely disagree

Bruno Boissière of the Union of European federalists said "I hope he made this interview before the session (on Monday and Tuesday). He is the president of an assembly and he should follow the consensus views." Marianne Bonnard, secretary general of the Young Federalists said the "JEF completely disagrees. The Commission has to be accountable and one way of doing this is having its president elected by the European parliament."

Mr Giscard views also go against the Commission's official submission to the Convention at the beginning of December. "We have made our position clear," said a Commission spokesman. "There is a clear need for reinforcing the legitimacy of the Commission though elections by the parliament." Another Commission official commented simply that Mr Giscard's comments were part of his aims to push through his "intergovernmental agenda at the expense of the Commission."


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