What’s new in the European Commission

A Fresh New Start – President Junker

The Next President of the European Commission will be Jean-Claude Junker. One can only hope he is better than previous Luxembourg President of the Commission, Jacques Santer, whose incompetence was so dire, that the European Parliament threw him out of office.

EU leaders choose him as their Candidate on 27 June. The UK and Hungary voted against him.

Kindred Spirits – Farage & Junker

It is not clear whether his first act as President of the Commission will be to drop the smoking ban in offices. Life in the Commission for a chain smoker could be tough.

Going forward

The BBC’s reporting of European Affairs has progressively declined. Sometimes it seems they are sharing the Daily Mail’s lead writer. But, they did provide this useful next steps timeline:

  • 1-3 July – First post-election session of new European Parliament
  • 14-17 July – European Parliament votes on nominee for Commission president – expected to back Mr Juncker
  • September – Parliament grills each nominee for 28-member Commission (one from each member state)
  • October – Parliament votes on new Commission team
  • November – New Commission should take office, as should new EU foreign policy chief and new European Council president.

Source: BBC

What Happens in the meantime

Now, you may have thought, as I did, that in the meantime, President Barosso, and the remaining Commissioners would have a very caretaker role.

They remain in office until the European Parliament endorse the whole of the new Commission including  President Junker. This means we have a few months of the old team before the new team comes in.

There are a lot of sensitive issues remaining, which President Barosso preferred not to force decisions on. It is not something he likes to do. For example, the Environment Commissioner wants to introduce an overhaul of Waste legislation already. I find it strange that an incumbent administration can push out legislative proposals that will bind the new administration.

It is perhaps the key job of the President of the Commission to,  at times make tough decisions, or at least for his Cabient to make recommendations for him to make tough choices. This is something that President Barroso has not been good at. It is tragic that important decisions are left to slide to the very last moment to be unblocked after emotional appeals from a fellow Commissioner or their Head of Cabinet.

Who Will the Advisers Be

One of the more important jobs in Brussels is to be an advisor to a Commissioner. This Cabinet of personal advisors to the Commissioner have a key role.

After President Junker’s confirmation by the EP, he will fly around to national capitals seeking their nominations on who they want to submit as their Commissioner.   He will then announce the package all at once with their designated portfolio.

This Commissioner designate will then appoint a Head of Cabinet whose first job is to get their boss confirmed by the European Parliament. This Head of Cabinet often is someone from his predecessor’s Cabinet or a recommendation. The Head of Cabinet will also organise a new Cabinet, with high flying officials sending in their updated CVs in. Usually there are 7 people, although the Vice Presidents get 9 and the President 13.

There are meant to be 3 nationalities in the Cabinet. It seems that rule never got translated into Italian for the last Commission.

 

What’s new in the European Parliament

European Parliament

On Thursday 26 June the Political Groups behind the Chairs and Vice- Chairs of the European Parliament’s 22 Committees were announced.  These positions are assigned to the  Political Groups relative to their size. As the Christian Democrats are the largest group, they get the first choice on the Committee they want to lead.

But, the days of packing the leadership with one country are gone. Whilst the German EPP is the largest Group in the EPP, they are not anymore going to pack every Chair with a CDU/CSU member.

Each groups assign themselves according to their own rules. For most of the groups they follow the D’Hondt system. That is the usual rule, but those rules sometimes get over-looked.  The names will be known next week.

No Real Change

 It does not look like any Committees have changed. I have always hoped the fisheries committee get merged into a broader maritime Committee. Clique  issue like Committees are not good. The Parliament can dispose of its oversight role just as well, and I’d contend better, if they’d deal with fisheries issues in a way similar to the European Commission, in a broad Marine, Maritime and Fisheries.

 

Members on the Committees

The MEPs who sit on the Committees will be known on 7th July.

To be honest, some Committees are seen as more prestigious than others.  The Foreign Affairs Committee seems to be very popular. I am not sure why. I guess there is a lot of travel involved and politicians get to speak about grand issues. But, if we are honest, it is an area where Europe is a leading force, and the Parliament has very little role to play. That said, MEPs scramble to join this Committee.

The old work horses of the Parliament are the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, Industry, Research and Energy Committee and Economic and Monetary Affairs. You go here if you like the hard work and long hours of doing what Parliament’s second main role is – to scrutinise proposals legislative proposals from the European Commission and to pass laws. It’s seen by some as less the glamorous side of being a MEP, but this is where the real and important decision are taken.

The first role of any Parliament  is, of course, to make sure the tax money is spent properly and the public’s money can be accounted for. Some work needs to be done on that front.

Each group gets seats in a Committee that are roughly proportional to the size of their Group. This means that the make up of the new Committees won’t look very different to the previous.

One thing worth bearing in mind is that one country can’t pack a Committee. I remember when it could and was done. This means the Spanish EPP and Social Democrats can’t be the sole representatives on the  Fisheries Committee.

Allocating the positions within their national is not as easy as it seems. The EPP have the Environment Committee, but rumour has it that they are having problems finding someone who either wants the job,  or who has the support of their national delegation for the job.

It lands up that for some countries they may have no national sitting on a Committee. For a landlocked country, sitting on the fisheries committee may be no huge loss, but it can mean that the national voice of a country on key issues is not heard.

 

Meeting 7 July

There are still proposals that the old, the 7th European Parliament, were considering and had not finished. The 8th European Parliament will start work in earnest on them.

Some of the Parliament’s legislative leads on proposals, like the National Emission Ceilings, have been re-elected. They can re-start work in September. Others will need to have new Rapporteurs and shadows assigned to the files will need to find new Rapporteurs before they can start work.

The new proposals the European Commission are turning out, like the overhaul of Waste legislation, rumoured for adoption on 1st July, will need a new Rapporteur. Work on this new legislative work wis likely to start work in December.

Comitology

One of the new Committees mot important jobs is to review a pile of delegated legislation that will be released to them. Under a pre-election agreement between the Commission, Council and the Parliament, the transmission of measures can re-start:

  • Delegated acts 17th July
  • Draft Regulatory Procedure with Scrutiny measures from 9th July
  • Some delegated acts in the financial services 21st August

The only challenge is that many MEPs, their personal and group advisors will be on vacation then.

 

European Parliament’s New Leaders – Who Are They

Parliament’s New Leaders 

Last week the men and women who will decide a lot of Europe’s laws were decided.

The Chairs of the European Parliament’s Committees, whose job is to keep the European Commission and Council in check, make sure taxpayers’ money is spent properly, and scrutinise and pass laws were decided. Or, at least the political families choose.

 

 

Who Are They

 

Here’s the list that came out on Thursday morning. It is the result of 2 days of talks in Rome between political group leaders.

[spiderpowa-pdf src=”http://www.aaronmcloughlin.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Overview.pdf”]OverviewOverview.pdf

 

How Are They Chosen

The names of the  people to fill the places will  now be decided within the European Parliament political groups. Each group has its own rules how they choose whose going to take the positions.

The French Christian Democrats want the fisheries committee, but they may spend their quota allocation another becoming lead in the Agriculture Committee.

The names will come out next week, and the members of the Committees will be known the week of 7th July. I wonder how many people have any idea who these men and women are?