Saturday

24th Sep 2016

Barroso admits legitimacy problem for commission president post

  • Mr Barroso, formerly Portuguese PM, has been commission president since 2004 (Photo: Portuguese EU presidency 2007)

European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has said that the European elections, regularly marked by voter apathy and low turnout, create a legitimacy problem for his post.

"I really believe we have a problem there," said Mr Barroso responding to a question about whether European citizens should have the power to directly elect the person to fill his post.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He added that: "From a formal point of view, its a perfect system" but admitted that in practice it is different.

Under rules of the new EU treaty the president of the commission has to be chosen in light of the result of the European elections, meaning the post goes to a person of the political grouping that wins the most seats in the European Parliament.

Mr Barroso, who pointed to the fact that the French prime minister was chosen by the French president or that former British prime minister Tony Blair was an MP before being chosen to become leader, said that although the "commission has the same legitimacy as prime ministers (...) in practice this is not the case."

"The question is of substantive legitimacy," he said, while speaking at a dinner organised by the Centre for European Policy Studies on Wednesday (27 February).

Elections to the 785-seat EU assembly take place every five years. Despite attempts to create pan-European debate, fostered by the creation of European political parties and lately proposals to set up political foundations at the European level, the elections remain national affairs, often with local or domestic issues coming into play.

Analysts says that if citizens were casting their vote to choose from a list of candidate for the job of commission president then turnout would likely be much higher - in the last round of elections in 2004 turnout was around 30 percent in some member states.

Mr Barroso noted that there is "no European political space" adding that this would "take time" to get away from the current 28 political systems at play - those of the 27 member states and the "Brussels beltway."

Balkan leaders pledge to keep out migrants

Balkan leaders said in New York there would be no repetition of last year's mass influx of refugees, as the EU prepares to launch a new border force to keep people out.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  2. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  3. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  5. YouthProAktivEntrepreneurship, Proactivity, Innovation - Turn Ideas Into Action #IPS2016
  6. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations
  7. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeDon't Miss the Mega Conference to Master Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  8. Martens CentreFighting Terrorism: Do we have what it takes? 26 September, Brussels
  9. ACCAKaras Report on Access to Finance for SMEs in a Capital Markets Union
  10. Centre Maurits Coppieters"I still believe we can change Europe" Said David Grosclaude
  11. World VisionThe Child Protection Index to be Launched in Brussels on 28 September 2016
  12. HuaweiDigital Transformation: Unleashing Europe’s Potential