Presentation on theme: "An Introduction to the European Commission Jacques DelorsJosé Manuel Barroso."— Presentation transcript:
An Introduction to the European Commission Jacques DelorsJosé Manuel Barroso
By Mark Corner, member of the external speaker team Taught in universities in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Leuven and Brussels, Belgium and Prague, Czech Republic. Please write for a copy of the ppp or to follow up with any further questions
There is an alphabet soup of national groupings worldwide ASEAN African Union UNASUR/MERCOSUR G7,G8, G20…. UN
In the aftermath of World War II, a new vision was proposed to ensure peace and prosperity. 9 May 1950 — French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presents a plan for deeper cooperation. 18 April Based on his plan, six countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) sign the Treaty of Paris to create the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The roots of the EU project
What makes the EU different? The countries that signed the ECSC created institutions to hold them to the Treaty they'd signed Such a system requires the creation of supranational institutions The first was called the ‘High Authority’
Sharing Sovereignty began with the Coal and Steel Community Luxemburg Netherlands Germany France Italy Belgium High Authority
Four key institutions made it work The High Authority and the Court of Justice were created to implement the Treaty of Paris But the founding members made sure that they remained part of the institutional scenery Through the Council of Ministers and the Assembly (which later became the Parliament)
Then came the famous Treaties of Rome, ratified in 1958 Creating the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) Each had a ‘Commission’ (very similar to the High Authority for the Coal and Steel Community). Eventually (in 1968) all three merged into the European Commission
The key to the EU structure
The Supranational Institutions have an important thing in common One Judge per member state for the Court of Justice One Commissioner per member state for the Commission Compare the US Senate – two senators per state, large or small The Parliament and Council have a weighted voting system (degressive proportionality)
So one Commissioner per member state There has been controversy over this (Ireland’s rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon) It is true that for a time the large states had two Commissioners and the small states one It is also true that Commissioners must work for the interests of the whole of the EU and not push their own national interests But small states value the access and leverage provided by having a Commissioner
An example – Ray MacSharry Irish Commissioner who introduced reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in the 1990s Committed to the CAP and aware (through Ireland’s history) of the terrible effects of famine But also knew the small farmers (he worked as a livestock dealer in Counties Sligo and Mayo) who were not well served by the CAP at the time His national background made him an ideal reformer in the agricultural field.
Are 28 Commissioners too many? It is not hard to have 28 ‘serious’ portfolios Think of what was done to make 25 into 27 after Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 Energy and Transport became two portfolios instead of one The first Climate Change Commissioner was appointed (Connie Hedegaard of Denmark) When Neven Mimica became Croatian Commissioner in July 2013, Health and Consumer Protection was divided up and he became Commissioner for Consumer Policy These changes hardly meant creating a ‘Commissioner for paperclips’.
The Commissioners serve a renewable five-year term The President of the Commission can serve up to two terms in office – the present one (José Manuel Barroso) must retire in 2014 The President is proposed by the European Council on the basis of Qualified Majority Voting but has to receive the backing of the Parliament. The Treaty of Lisbon refers to the President as ‘elected’ by the Parliament and President Barroso would like to see parties campaign in the 2014 Parliamentary elections on the basis of whom they would like to see as his successor. Many would like to see the first-ever woman President.
Once the President has been elected… He or she works with the Heads of State to decide on portfolios for the Commissioners proposed by member states (very often former – but sometimes also future - national politicians) All the other 27 are then subject to the equivalent of Senate hearings where they are grilled by the European Parliament These ‘grillings’ are not ritualistic – in 2004 two proposed Commissioners were rejected and in 2009 another two were rejected. The member states concerned had to propose new Commissioners
Directorates - General Directorates-Generals are like a Department or Ministry at national level. Previously the DG s were numbered, e.g; DG V but are now called by acronyms... do you know what these are? DG CONNECT, DG RTD, DG EMPL, DG SANCO, DG CLIMA, DG JUST, DG HOME, DG DIGIT, DG ELARG, DG TRADE, DG SG, DG ECFIN, DG ELARG, DG ENTR
The 28 Commissioners have their ‘Cabinets’ Teams of advisers that under Lisbon come from at least three member states (to ensure that they do not simply promote national interests) They then work with the ‘fonctionnaires’, essentially civil servants who are formed into ‘units’ within ‘directorates’ under the overall management of a ‘director-general’. The different departments of the Commission are called ‘directorates-general’ and abbreviated DG - eg DG Clima deals with climate change issues
The Commission is often called a Civil Service People think ‘bureaucrats: eurocrats’ But as we have seen, the ‘fonctionnaires’ receive policy direction from their Commissioners within the same institution In fact the Commission has the exclusive right (in most areas) to initiate legislation It proposes new laws So it is more than a civil service
However, it cannot pass the laws it proposes In this sense, it is ‘more than a civil service but less than a legislature’ The laws it proposes have to be passed by the Parliament and the Council (this is called the ‘ordinary legislative procedure’); they may say ‘no’ or they may want changes made. National parliaments also scrutinise new draft legislation – with an eye to ‘subsidiarity’ and ‘proportionality’ – as do the consultative committees (Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions)
The Commission may also propose new laws on the basis of a request from citizens The Citizens’ Initiative requires a million signatures and a range of member states It must be in an area within the Commission’s competence So far several initiatives have been accepted
When any piece of draft legislation is finally passed There is still a complicated process of ‘agreeing what we have agreed’ (Comitology) which involves the Commission and the Council (and more recently the Parliament) But what finally emerges (if it is a regulation or directive) will be binding upon all member states. Regulations tend to be specific and technical adjustments to existing legislation, most of them related to the CAP Directives are binding as to the results to be achieved, but member states choose how to achieve them, notifying the Commission of their national implementing measures. If they fail to comply proceedings may be initiated against them.
An example – fish. EU sets rules concerning TACs - Total Allowable Catches Part of the Common Fisheries Policy administered by DG MARE (Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) which consults experts and interest groups, proposes legislation including limits on catches and then passes it to the Council and Parliament for inevitable modification. If a country does not comply with what finally becomes law the Commission can ask the Court of Justice for sanctions. In July 2005 France was fined 20 million euros for catching fish that were too small and a further 60 million every 6 months until it complied…
How EU Law works…. EU laws – whether a Regulation or Directive - are binding upon all Member States. Regulations are very specific on what must be done and Member States are required to enact this Directives set out what results have to be achieved, but Member States choose how to achieve them, notifying the Commission of their national implementing measures. This is called 'transposing EU law' Sometimes Directives evolve into Regulations if greater harmonisation is needed (Data Protection laws)
The Commission has 32,666 staff (2013 figures) Two thirds of them work in Brussels - Biggest Directorate-General is DEVCO, (11 % of staff), 7 % work in translation and 5 % in Research. DG CLIMA only has 0.5 % of staff. - Nationalities: Belgians (17%), Italians (11%), French (10%), Germans (almost 7%), UK (almost 4 %). Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg 0.5% or less - Gender: 55 % of them are women - Ages: Mostly % are under 30 and < 5 % are aged 60 +
This is DG Education and Culture (the former Hotel Plaza)
In some areas the Commission has an important coordinating role DG Education and Culture organises the Erasmus programme. Education is a national competence but member states need to coordinate if they are to have successful exchanges of staff and students – for instance by recognising each other’s qualifications and courses. The European External Action Service, which is not a department of the Commission though it incorporates the work of the former DG RELEX (External Relations) coordinates actions overseas like Operation Atalanta in the Horn of Africa, using both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power. Defence and Foreign Policy is a national competence like education, but there are many actions that all member states wish to take together.
Some departments are able to apply many directives Such as DG Environment and DG Clima which require compliance with a whole range of legislation from wastewater treatment to clean air, vehicle emissions and the use of pesticides in parks. This has helped to make the EU a world leader in the environmental area. Note that there is always ‘crossover’ – environmental initiatives are linked to job creation, while their enforceability (for instance on multinationals) has a lot to do with the attractions of the single market.
Some departments have large budgets DG Agriculture and Rural Development is one. It used to be called DG Agriculture, but has been able to focus more on general issues of rural life, including the quality of food produced, farming methods and ‘greening’ the countryside (eg forestation, hedges). DG Regio is the other ‘big spender’, focusing on support for poorer regions of the EU, but with an emphasis upon promoting innovation, employment and growth. Remember, though, that the real ‘big spenders’ are the member states themselves.
The EU has ‘own resources’ – its own budget Total EU budget 2012: billion euro…. representing about 1.2% of the Gross National Income of member states
Administering the EU budget For set at 1.12 % of GNI
Supporting poorer regions Convergence objective: regions with GDP per capita under 75% of the EU average. 81.5% of the funds are spent on this objective. EU Cohesion Policy about 347 billion euro, ie 50 billion per year will be similar figures though with some revamping (a new set of regions with GDP per head between 75% and 90% of EU average) Note rules of ‘additionality’ and ‘conditionality’
: €325 billion invested for infrastructure, business, environment and training of workers for less well-off regions or citizens under three new objectives TOTAL BUDGET PROPOSED 325 BILLION EUROS 'Less developed' < 75 % of GDP 'Transition regions' % of GDP More developed' > 90 % of GDP LESS DEVELOPED REGIONS 50% - 75% EU co-financing Safety net of 2/3 of previous allocation for regions moving ‘up’ and out of this category
Some of the most important work is done in the area of the single market Policing the business community in the internal market In 2007, Commission imposed what until recently was its largest ever fine for cartel violations. Four companies were fined €992 million for operating cartels for the installation and maintenance of lifts and escalators in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In March 2013, Microsoft was fined €561 million for failing to comply with its commitments to offer users a browser choice screen enabling them to easily choose their preferred web browser Consumers have benefited from such action – eg cheap air travel within Europe, reduced roaming charges
Departments do not live in isolation from one another They often have to work together – it is common sense for an environmental initiative to involve DG Clima and perhaps DG Agri and DG Energy as well as DG Environment. A new proposal will travel from the ‘lead unit’ both ‘horizontally’ (talk to other units at the same level in other departments), and vertically (proposal goes to directors, director-general and finally College of Commissioners).
This is the HQ of the Commission, the Berlaymont Building
The fundamental role of the Commission Is to be the ‘Guardian of the Treaties’ By making sure that they are implemented – this is the ‘executive’ role of the Commission, but it has this role only within the terms of the Treaties. By proposing new laws to spell out their implications By administering the budget that is required to make them effective By representing the EU abroad where appropriate (eg in negotiations at the WTO)
The Seven Treaties The 1952 The European Steel and Coal Community 1958 The treaties of Rome: The European Economic Community The European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) 1987 The European Single Act: the Single Market 1993 Treaty of European Union – Maastricht 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam 2003 Treaty of Nice 2009 Treaty of Lisbon