The appointment of former EC chief José Manuel Barroso as an adviser at Goldman Sachs has raised eyebrows, but many observers have fretted to comment that the move, though morally questionable, was entirely legal. But how legitimate is this defence in reality? Alberto Alemanno and Benjamin Bodson argue the time has come to redefine what we think of as tolerable in the political space […]
How did the Eurozone crisis affect the balance of power between the EU’s institutions? As Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt writes, opinion has been split over whether the crisis strengthened or damaged the European Commission’s role in EU decision-making. She argues that while some authors have highlighted an apparent increase in the Commission’s responsibilities over economic governance during the crisis, the […]
The European Commission has announced an inquiry into whether recent Polish reforms affecting the country’s constitutional tribunal and media are consistent with the rule of law. Krzysztof Śliwiński argues that the review risks fuelling Euroscepticism in the country and feeds into wider debates on the resentment felt by some sections of European societies toward Brussels.
On Friday 13 January, the […]
How the Spitzenkandidaten process and Juncker’s reforms might shape the future of the European Commission
One of the most important innovations in the EU in recent years has been the so called ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ process, under which the major European political groups nominated candidates for President of the Commission prior to the 2014 European elections. Martin Westlake assesses the legacy of the process for future elections. He writes that the Spitzenkandidaten system did not emerge […]
Why does the European Commission at times propose legislative drafts that provoke Member State opposition, that introduce strikingly high or low standards, or that actively contradict each other? Miriam Hartlapp, Julia Metz and Christian Rauh present findings from a study of 48 legislative drafting processes. They argue that while the Commission is often thought of as a unified actor, […]
National officials working for the Commission display a surprising amount of independence from their own governments
When national officials are appointed to international administrations such as the European Commission, how can we ensure that they act independently, rather than merely in the interest of their own national government? Jarle Trondal, Zuzana Murdoch and Benny Geys present findings from a survey of national officials who have been ‘seconded’ to the Commission for a specific period of […]
A common argument made against the European Union by Eurosceptic politicians is that the EU creates a burden on citizens and businesses by producing too much legislation. But how much legislation does the EU actually produce? Renaud Dehousse and Olivier Rozenberg present data on both the raw number of EU acts adopted since 1996, and a measure of the […]
The European Commission’s stronger role in economic governance has made it an unexpected ‘winner’ from the Eurozone crisis
Several commentators have argued that the Eurozone crisis has resulted in more intergovernmental EU decision-making, with the European Commission in particular being weakened by the role taken on by the European Council in the area of economic governance. Michael W. Bauer and Stefan Becker write, however, that while the Commission’s agenda setting powers have been curtailed, it has been […]
Public investment under the new EU Cohesion Policy is helping Europe out of the crisis and into growth
The EU’s Cohesion Policy (often referred to as the Regional Policy of the European Union) is one of the most important areas of spending in the EU budget. It aims to improve development and generate growth and employment by funding projects in regions across Europe. Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy, writes on the importance of Cohesion Policy […]
Strengthening the role of citizens and national parliaments in decision-making is key to solving the EU’s democratic deficit
The European Union has often been accused of having a ‘democratic deficit’. Ahead of the European elections on 22-25 May, Chris Terry outlines proposals put forward by the Electoral Reform Society in the UK for improving EU democracy. Among other reforms, he suggests that improving the representativeness of MEPs by using open-list voting systems, increasing the accountability of the […]
European Parliament elections are no longer second-order national contests – they are essential for determining the future direction of the EU
European Parliament elections are often assumed to be ‘second-order national elections’ rather than genuinely European elections. As Ingeborg Tömmel writes, the President of the European Commission has a key role to play, along with the Parliament, in shaping European integration. She argues that with the election of the next Commission President depending on the outcome of the European elections in […]
The EU’s attempts to manage air transport regulation illustrate the extent to which supranational actors can send credible signals to financial markets
How can European policymakers send credible signals to financial markets? Christian Rauh traces market responses to the announcements and events during the Commission’s nine-year conflict for competences in international air transport regulation. He finds that judicial strategies and European Court of Justice proceedings sent the most credible signals for regulatory change to financial markets, adding evidence to ‘institutionalist’ views of […]
A number of protests have taken place in Romania over a planned mining project at Rosia Montana in the north of the country. Simona Manea argues that the EU should take a more active role in the debate, particularly given its attempts to lead efforts to implement the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to shape the UN debate […]
David Cameron has announced his intention to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the European Union ahead of an ‘in/out’ referendum in 2017. Hugo Brady writes that rather than attempting to negotiate the re-nationalisation of EU powers to Westminster, he and other European leaders should consider some practical, feasible reforms that the Union can begin to implement immediately. Outlining a series of […]
The Eurozone crisis has generated a number of structural reforms at the European level. In light of the democratic implications of some of these reforms, Andrew Duff and Guy Verhofstadt propose a new ‘fundamental law’ to replace the EU’s existing treaty framework. This incorporates a federal union in which the European Commission is transformed into a full democratic constitutional government […]
The European Commission has set up a number of expert groups to aid the development of European policies. As John Moodie writes, a balance is generally required between the gains in effectiveness and efficiency which expertise can provide for policymakers, and the democratic implications of relying too heavily on experts in the European policy process. He argues that while there […]
The European Commission is stronger and better equipped to meet Europe’s challenges than is often thought.
Hussein Kassim presents findings from a new book that reveals the inner workings of one of the world’s most powerful international administrations. Examining the backgrounds and beliefs of officials, and how the organisation has changed over the past decade, he argues that the European Commission is stronger and better equipped to meet the challenges that confront the European Union than […]
The second Greek rescue programme was not merely late, but also insufficient, making a third programme inevitable.
Last week the IMF published a review of the financial assistance given to Greece during its debt crisis. One of the key limitations identified in the report was that debt relief for the country was provided far later than it should have been. Waltraud Schelkle writes on the fallout from the report, which generated angry responses from both the European […]
Brussels blog round-up for 25 – 31 May: Commissioners in trouble, UK challenged over migrants’ benefits, and should the EU get rid of its small change?
Chris Gilson takes a look at the week in Brussels blogging. The EU centre and the crisis This week, the European Commission announced that some eurozone members would be given more time to get their deficits under control, for example, France will get two extra years, according to Coulisses de Bruxelles. Open Europe says that the plans are much of the […]
As Morten Egeberg writes, international organisations are typically composed of representatives with affiliations to the national level. The European Commission, in contrast, is one of the few international institutions in which key actors owe their allegiances to the supranational level. Assessing the potential for the Commission to act as a ‘laboratory’ for experiments in supranational institution building, he finds that […]