Tuesday 8 December 2009

New European Commission ─ Official proposal

Even if news travel instantly in the wired world, more or less accurately, we should not discount the importance of official records.

Just as there are national official gazettes (under different names), the European Union works under the rule of law, making laws and decisions based on the powers in the treaties, and publishing the results for the record.

If the media (aided by some crowd-pleasing parochial politicians) managed to present the nomination of the new Commission as a dramatic 27 nation tournament, with winners and losers, the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) serves students and other serious observers in another manner.

In general, students should look for primary sources. In addition, one can actually learn a thing or two about the legal framework, which led to the official outcome and will govern the next phases.

New Commission proposed

Let us take the list of proposed Commission members as an example:

COUNCIL DECISION, taken by common accord with the President-elect of the Commission, of 4 December 2009 adopting the list of the other persons whom the Council proposes for appointment as Members of the Commission (2009/903/EU), which was published OJEU 8.12.2009 L 321/51.

The decision has been taken by the Council of the European Union on 4 December 2009, after the Lisbon Treaty entered into force.

We see that the decision has been taken by common accord with the President-elect.

We see the special circumstances of the High Representative/Vice-President.

We are able to read a short history of the process.

The process, including the following steps, is outlined.

The term is until 31 October 2014.

All the names are recorded; not only “national champions”.

The decision refers to the legal base: Article 17(3) and (4) and (7), second subparagraph.

Legal base

The references to the treaty provisions offer us a framework for the decision and the next steps: Treaty on European Union TEU (0JEU 9.5.2008 C 115/25-26):

Article 17 TEU (excerpt)


3. The Commission's term of office shall be five years.

The members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt.

In carrying out its responsibilities, the Commission shall be completely independent. Without prejudice to Article 18(2), the members of the Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any Government or other institution, body, office or entity. They shall refrain from any action incompatible with their duties or the performance of their tasks.

4. The Commission appointed between the date of entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and 31 October 2014, shall consist of one national of each Member State, including its President and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who shall be one of its Vice-Presidents.


7. Taking into account the elections to the European Parliament and after having held the appropriate consultations, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall propose to the European Parliament a candidate for President of the Commission. This candidate shall be elected by the European Parliament by a majority of its component members. If he does not obtain the required majority, the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, shall within one month propose a new candidate who shall be elected by the European Parliament following the same procedure.

The Council, by common accord with the President-elect, shall adopt the list of the other persons whom it proposes for appointment as members of the Commission. They shall be selected, on the basis of the suggestions made by Member States, in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraph 3, second subparagraph, and paragraph 5, second subparagraph.

The President, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the other members of the Commission shall be subject as a body to a vote of consent by the European Parliament. On the basis of this consent the Commission shall be appointed by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority.


Just for the record…

The European Union is based on the treaties, now the amending Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009.

The treaties are of fundamental importance. All powers, new laws and decisions are based on the treaties, directly or derived from them. The EU is based on the rule of law.

Lacking immediacy and high drama, the official record of the European Union ─ the Official Journal ─ is more than a compilation of materials. The OJEU is an excellent teacher on how the EU functions.

In a world of bus passengers, the Lisbon Treaty is the manual for the drivers and auto mechanics.

Ralf Grahn

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