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Monday, January 19, 2009

The European election, 2009

Ok, here's some news about the elections, the new Commissionaires and so on.
  1. Capitals tune in to Commission's musical chairs
  2. EU summit gives in to Irish demands on Lisbon Treaty
  3. Lisbon Treaty revote linked to Croatia's EU entry

Capitals tune in to Commission's musical chairs

6 January 2009

Just under a year ahead of the appointment of the next EU executive, word is already out regarding the redistribution of portfolios and replacement of some commissioners, nominated by the 27 member states.

The appointment of the future Belgian commissioner appears to be part of a deal to form a new government in the country.

Like his predecessor, the new prime minister Herman Van Rompuy is from the Flemish Christian Democratic Party (CD&V), and Van Rompuy's government is similar to the previous one. The Belgian press reported that CD&V had obtained assurances that they would be able to appoint the successor to the current liberal (VLD) Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht should the latter become the country's next European commissioner.

De Gucht, who was recently suspected of using his privileged position to profit from the sale of Fortis shares just before the bank's collapse, has since regained the confidence of his political allies.

Ireland, which was given assurances by EU leaders that all the bloc's members would keep their commissioner to help pave the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the country, is also considering the identity of its next commissioner. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has called for John Bruton, a former prime minister and currently the Commission's representative in the US, to be formally recommended as Ireland's next commissioner.

The Czech press quoted opposition leader Jiri Paroubek (CSSD) as saying that former CSSD chairman and current EU commissioner Vladimir Spidla would not continue in his role.

Although the Czech leadership is now busy with the EU Presidency, word is spreading about the ambition of Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vondra for an international top job. Some see Vondra not only as a potential commissioner but also a potential replacement for Dutchman Jaap de Hoop Scheffer as NATO secretary general.

A number of commissioners are widely expected to leave the EU executive, including French Commissioner Jacques Barrot. Current French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier is frequently cited as the Elysée's next choice for a Commission post. Should he assume the role, as a former commissioner for regional policy in Romano Prodi's commission, a former EU minister and a former head of the French diplomatic service, he is expected to be given an important portfolio.

German Commissioner Guenther Verheugen and his Dutch colleague Neelie Kroes are also expected to leave. But others are expected to stay, including Olli Rehn, responsible for EU enlargement, who recently made no secret of this ambition in an interview (EurActiv 21/11/08). Recently, a Finnish MEP suggested that Rehn could become the first 'High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy' once the Lisbon Treaty is enforced (EurActiv 17/12/08).

UK Commissioner Catherine Ashton only took office recently, replacing Peter Mandelson without giving clear indications as to whether she would stay in the next commission.

Among the new members, Bulgarian Commissioner Meglena Kuneva is expected to stay for a second term, while her Romanian colleague Leonard Orban is expected to be replaced. According to rumours, Slovenia's Janez Potocnik, Hungary's Laszlo Kovacs and Latvia's Andris Piebalgs are also expected to leave the commission.

While Commission President José Manuel Barroso is expected to retain his job should the EPP-ED group prove successful in the European elections, his main challenge will be to redistribute portfolios. As a rule, commissioners who wish to stay for a second term seek more important dossiers. source

My comment: So, this was a long least of names, many of which you probably don't know. In any case, you'll at least know your own Commissionaire so now, you know whether s/he is staying or leaving. I'm happy that Madam Kuneva will stay, because she did a great job to protect European consumers, she was even chosen for a top Commissionaire which isn't little. Also, I support Oli Ren in his ambitions, he looks like a great man to me. And I have my doubts for the Irish ambitions since they proved they are unreliable and that they simply don't care about the EU. Let's see what will happen.

EU summit gives in to Irish demands on Lisbon Treaty

12 December 2008

On the first day of the European Council (11 December), EU leaders agreed on a package of Irish demands which pave the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland, which will most probably be held in October 2009.

Under the compromise text, seen by EurActiv, all EU countries are expected to keep their commissioner. Ireland will receive legal guarantees on taxation policy, social and ethical issues and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CFSP), with regard to Ireland's traditional policy of neutrality among other provisions.

The draft summit conclusions feature a page entitled 'Statement of the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon, as set out by the Taoiseach'. These include social protection and protection of workers' rights, public services as an instrument for social and regional cohesion, the responsibility of member countries for education and health services, and the role of national and regional governments in providing non-economic services, including those related to the common commercial policy.

In exchange, Ireland committed to holding a second referendum on the Treaty by the end of the current Commission's term: that is, before the end of 2009. Several sources said October 2009 was the most likely date for a re-run of the referendum.

It is now clear that the re-run of the referendum will not take place ahead of the EU elections, as MEPs had been calling for.

As European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering explained at his summit press conference, finding a solution before the European elections, due in June 2009, would indeed have been more desirable but was widely considered unrealistic.

Transitional accommodations

Therefore, transitional measures have been adopted with respect to the Presidency of the European Council, as well as of the European Parliament. The member state holding the EU presidency when the Lisbon Treaty enters into force (Sweden holds the presidency until the end of 2009) will continue to chair all meetings in the same manner as today's presidencies.

But the next EU presidency holder (Spain from January 2010) will make changes in conformity with the Lisbon Treaty, making room for a permanent President of the European Council and a High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

Also, European Parliament will be enlarged from 736 to 754 members in the course of 2010, if indeed the Irish say 'yes' to the reform treaty. The elections will take place under the Treaty of Nice, but soon the Parliament is expected to accommodate the provisions of Lisbon.

National insiders

Some countries, such as Belgium, were reportedly not particularly enthusiastic about the compromise whereby each member state will keep its commissioner. One of the aims of slimming down the Commission was to boost its independence from member states.

But several countries, especially among the new members, expressed their preference for keeping the current system, considering commissioners to be the highest ranking national insiders in the EU executive. Just before arriving in Brussels, Romanian President Traian Basescu and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said they were in favour of keeping the one-commissioner-per-country system. source

My comment: Well, I still don't know which system I prefer, because let's be honest, if there weren't 1 Commissionaire for each member state, we would never seen the potential Meglena Kuneva has and she would never have done all the good stuff she did for European consummers. I have not doubts that a Bulgarian would never get that post in other circumstances no matter how qualified, that's why I think this system is good. True, the Commissionaires aren't really independent of their countries, but as long as their take care of the interests of the Union, who cares.

Lisbon Treaty revote linked to Croatia's EU entry

12 December 2008

Changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty, aimed at pleasing Irish voters in view of a second referendum on the failed text, will be introduced with Croatia's EU accession treaty "in 2010 or 2011," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after an EU summit today (12 December).

Speaking at a post-summit press conference, a triumphant Sarkozy confirmed that agreement had been reached over the compromise package, which paves the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland.

"The Lisbon process has been is relaunched," Sarkozy announced, indicating that the Irish would hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

"If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified by all member states, each member state will have a commissioner," Sarkozy declared. Political guarantees will be given to Ireland "concerning neutrality, tax and family," he added.

To make these commitments legally binding without reopening the treaty ratification procedure in all 27 countries, Sarkozy explained that at the time of the next enlargement, in "2010 or 2011, at the moment when in all likelihood Croatia will join us," provisions will be included in that country's accession treaty as "an Irish protocol".

The protocol will also confirm an increase in the number of MEPs from 736 to 754: three MEPs more than the number foreseen by the current Lisbon Treaty. The deal benefits Germany in particular, which will retain its 99 MEPs. source

My comment: This one was just to complete the article before.

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