The resignation en bloc of the Jacques Santer Commission, a few months ago, after charges of nepotism and mismanagement against some of its members, including Edith Cresson and Manuel Marín, has cast discredit on an institution that has already been much criticized in the past, portrayed as a group of faceless bureaucrats or pretentious technicians: and General de Gaulle, in his time, used to say about the Commission, that it was a "technocratic Areopagus". However, does the Commission deserve this so nasty reputation? Is it accurate to say, as some commentators do, that it has too many powers?
An analysis of the Commission´s actual powers will enable everyone to understand that the Commission has extended and hardly controllable powers which can make fear for a lack of democracy; but in the meantime, it seems obvious that these extended powers are needed to carry out efficiently the policies of European Union and that accusations of "democratic deficit" must be taken carefully.
Successor of the High Authority (under ECSC Treaty) the College of the 20 Commissioners is appointed by the Member-States along with the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers whose role is to appoint the President. Since the Treaty of Amsterdam , and as it has been the case a few months ago with the nomination of the Prodi Commission, the European Parliament proceeds to an interview of the candidates and votes for the investiture of the Commission.
[...] ) It is also the Commission which negotiates accession treaties The Commission also has an important role in the budgetary field, in making and giving effect to the budgets adopted by the European parliament. It administers the European Development Fund, the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, and the European Regional Development Fund. The work of the Commission is divided into separate policy areas in much the same way as at national level governmental responsibilities are divided between ministries. Thus, the Commission's basic units of organization are its Directorates General. The size and internal organization of DGs varies. [...]
[...] Is the European Commission more or less powerful than it should be? Introduction The resignation en bloc of the Jacques Santer Commission, a few months ago, after charges of nepotism and mismanagement against some of its members, including Edith Cresson and Manuel Marín, has cast discredit on an institution that has already been much criticized in the past, portrayed as a group of faceless bureaucrats or pretentious technicians: and General de Gaulle, in his time, used to say about the Commission, that it was a "technocratic Areopagus". [...]
[...] Located in Brussels, the Commission is actually entitled with five main and complementary goals: 1. It engages in rule making, especially under the ECSC Treaty, but also under the EEC Treaty. It means that a lot of regulations, directives, and decisions are adopted by the Commission. Moreover, within different policy areas, the Council has delegated important rule-making powers to the Commission. This, for instance, is the case within the Common Agricultural Policy, where the Commission adopts hundreds of regulations each year The Commission also has to ensure that European rules and laws are respected. [...]
[...] DGs are formally headed by Directors General who is responsible to the appropriate Commissioner or Commissioners A technocratic superstructure? The main goal of the Commission is, in these conditions, to represent the common interest of the European Union (unlike the council which represents the interests of the member States and unlike the European Parliament which represents the interests of the people). To a certain extent, the Commission can be compared with a government in the member states: It takes political initiatives, it proposes legislation, has a bureaucracy at its disposal, it gets involved in policy implementation. [...]
[...] The Commission is, as a consequence, heavily (too heavily) dependant on the good faith and willing cooperation of the member states. It can thus be aked whether the Commission has the means to carry out the large responsibilities it is granted. Besides all these technical imperfections, the Commission also lacks of popular support and it is not rare to see politicians blame the Commission for all the problems encountered by the countries: it is thus quite clearly shown as a "scapegoat". [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee