A College of Cardinals For Europe – the College of Commissioners
European Commissioners are meant to act in the general interest of Europe. Their very generous salary package and pension is just one way that avoiding the genouritsty and lure of national and specials interests when they leave office.
An Oath of Loyal and Independent Service
But, Commissioners go one step further. They swear an oath of office, a contract so to speak, to:
- having been appointed as a Member of the European Commission by the European Council, following the vote of consent by the European Parliament
I solemnly undertake:
- to respect the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the fulfilment of all my duties;
- to be completely independent in carrying out my responsibilities, in the general interest of the Union;
- in the performance of my tasks, neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government or from any other institution, body, office or entity;
- to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties or the performance of my tasks.
I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks.
I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of office, the obligation arising therefrom, and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after I have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.”
What About in Practice?
Now, after a few years working in the Commission I realized that this ideal was being diluted. National capitals step in to influence the preparation of commission proposals from the very start. National capitals, in particular the Elysee Palace, today have seeming real time access to every draft and development in the Commission.
Where is the Guardian of the Treaty?
Now, the mirage of the Commission and Commissioners acting in the European interest is kept alive. The idea of President Barosso being a naked King with princelings running amok promoting national interests goes against the very ideal of Europe.
Barniner to the Rescue – but to Whose Rescue?
I enjoyed reading one of the Sunday Times pieces last week titled “French scupper law to protect British sea bed”. The piece talks about how Commissioner Barnier blocked, at the very last moment, a proposal from fisheries Commissioner Damanki to limit the effects of deep sea fishing. The reason he is credited with giving was to protect french fishermen.
Where’s the Leadership Hiding Out in Berlaymont?
Now, what I find hard to understand is that the President of the Commission, or someone acting in his interests, did not quietly and decisively step in, and politely remind Commissioner Barnier of his contract.
If the Commissioner does not want to carry on in office, he is welcome to retire, on a very generous pension, and go and defend France’s dying industry from the ramparts of French politics. But, to promote national interests is against the Commissioner’s contract.
What next, Commissioner Oettinger throwing the ETS Regulation to the wolves to save the German coal based power industry?