Thursday

19th Sep 2019

EP president wants future EU commissioners directly elected

  • MEPs have become more powerful under the Lisbon Treaty (Photo: European Parliament)

European Parliament chief Jerzy Buzek has said EU commissioners should in future be directly elected rather than hand-picked by national governments.

Speaking on Monday (22 March) at the Humboldt University in Berlin, a venue where politicians like to air new ideas, Mr Buzek said it is time for a "parliamentarisation" of the commission.

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

Member states should be persuaded to "increasingly put their candidates for a seat in the commission on the European election lists, where they could occupy first place."

This would make the commissioners "visible" for EU citizens and give them a "democratic mandate."

"This would not just be of symbolic importance. The commission would have stronger democratic legitimacy and would be strengthened as an institution," said Mr Buzek.

At the moment, each member state nominates one candidate to be their EU commissioner.

The process is a tangle of behind-the-scenes negotiating as each national capital tries to get the weightiest portfolio while not always having the purest EU community motives for sending their nominee to Brussels.

In the most recent round, Berlin was widely reported as proposing Guenther Oettinger, now in charge of energy, to be its commissioner in order to remove him from the domestic political scene.

Speaking more generally about the effects of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's new legal framework in place since 1 December last year, Mr Buzek said member states are still learning to accept the new balance of power:

"It is clear that for some politicians, also for those in leading positions, the consequences of the Lisbon Treaty are a big surprise."

Member states are only now beginning to understand what they have actually agreed to with the ratification of the treaty, said the EP chief.

The treaty greatly extends the legislative powers of the European Parliament, giving MEPs co-decision rights in virtually all areas of EU law-making.

This has shifted the dynamics of power within the Brussels. Currently this is noticeable in the heated debate on setting up a new diplomatic service, where MEPs are determined to sit at the negotiating table, but also in areas such as trade where deputies have raised question marks about key EU bilateral trade agreements.

Opinion

Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration

Brussels' current vision for cooperation on defence, where third countries can contribute but have no say in decision-making and in the guidance of operations, is unlikely to be attractive to the UK.

Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds

National governments have a "crucial role" to prioritise low-carbon cities to tackle climate challenges and secure economic prosperity since high-carbon systems are expected to become unprofitable or inoperable in the near future.

France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

French president Emmanuel Macron is pressing for an automated distribution of rescued migrants at sea - but also stands accused of tightening asylum rules in his own country as a response to the far-right.

Opinion

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

News in Brief

  1. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  2. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  3. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  4. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan
  5. Minsk talks bode ill for EU's peace summit on Ukraine
  6. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  7. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  8. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Podcast

Trumpworld In Europe

Pastors and plutocrats are sponsoring an ultra-conservative agenda in Europe. Many of them have links to Donald Trump.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  2. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  3. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  4. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  5. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  6. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  7. A new Commission for the one percent
  8. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us