Thursday, 9 September 2010

Barroso: The state of the Commission’s Work Programme

Yesterday The European Citizen called José Manuel Barroso’s “State of the Union” address The Commissarial Speech (8 September 2010).

According to Eurocentric:

The speech itself actually wasn't that bad, if you dropped your preconceptions about the State of the Union imagery. As Honor Mahony pointed out, it was quite good as a work programme speech (particularly for a Barroso-speech).

Honor Mahony’s EUobserver blog post The speech (7 September 2010).

In my view, Eurocentric and Mahony clearly showed the conflict between a speech about the Commission's Work Programme (which it was) and a State of the Union address (which it wasn't, but was marketed as).

Underlining the 'special relationship' between the Commission and the European Parliament meant that Barroso directed the speech even more at the MEPs, who know pretty well what's coming up in their Committees anyway, and are fairly blasé.

This effectively excluded a speech to the citizens of the European Union, as well as themes, concerns and images they (we) relate to.

Eurocentric’s headline and post encapsulated this well.

For some strange reason, both Commission leadership (president Barroso) and EP leaders (president Jerzy Buzek) have wanted to market Barroso’s speech as an EU “State of the Union” address (a first), and the concept lies buried in an obscure point in an annex to the revised framework agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission, soon to be approved and to enter into force.

However, essentially Barroso’s intervention was about the Commission’s Work Programme for 2011, which he presented in two parts: a letter to the Members of the European Parliament and in his speech to the EP plenary session.

Read them as such, and they begin to make sense.

But what should they call it, when some day one of the EU presidents decides to starts discussing with the citizens of the European Union?

A fireside chat?

Ralf Grahn