Back to business and to good old (coz it doesnt look like very innovative) EU politics. People keep on asking me who the new Commissioners will be and I should share my (non existing) insight here.
Besides the ongoing struggles of Barroso to get himself appointed, I assume Socialists and Liberals will eventually bow in and re-elect him as President already in September to send a signal to Ireland. This means that the Portugese portfolio is sorted. How does it look for other countries? I would divide up the table in three different groups: quasi-safe nominations, likely nominations and unpredictable races.
The already appointed
Belgium: Karel de Gucht, Flemish Liberal (ELDR), the Louis Michel replacement was nominated to stay, has 5-year experience as Belgian foreign minister Portugal: Barroso (even though the government is leftist… but they remain happy to keep him away from Portugal so that the division in the conservative party continues), EPP
Estonia: Siim Kallas, Reform Party (ELDR), did a good, likes to continue and is apparently likely to be re-nominated Finland: Olli Rehn, Center Party (ELDR) will continue; after doing a great job in the enlargement portfolio he hopes to become EU foreign minister and he might have chances, his re-appointment was part of the coalition agreement France: Michel Barner, UMP (EPP) Continue reading →
Die FAZ schreibt heute über ein Interview, das Kommissionspräsident Barroso mehreren europäischen Zeitungen gegeben hat. Darin erklärt Barroso zu seinen Ambitionen auf ein erneutes Mandat als Kommissionspräsident:
Der Respekt vor dem Parlament, das vom 4. bis 7. Juni neu gewählt wird, gebiete es jedoch sich nicht schon jetzt zu einer Kandidatur zu äußern.
Wie bitte?! – Man stelle sich einmal vor, Angela Merkel würde erklären, dass sie ja noch nicht sagen kann, ob sie wieder Kanzlerin werden will, weil sie erst die Bundestagswahl abwarten möchte. Ja, was soll ich denn dann als Wähler machen? Erst die Wahl abwarten und dann wählen?! Es geht doch auch bei dieser Wahl natürlich nicht nur um die Wahlprogramme der Parteien sondern auch darum wer sie umsetzt. Aber wer denkt, dass er die zukünftigen Verantwortlichen für eben diese Umsetzung vor den Wählern verstecken muss, der darf sich auch nicht wundern, warum so wenige zur Wahl gehen.
Stefan Kornelius greift in seinem heutigen Kommentar in der Süddeutschen Zeitung noch einen anderen wichtigen Punkt auf: Nach 30 Jahren direkt gewähltest Parlament sollten die Parteien und “Eliten” endlich aufhören, Europa zu rechtfertigen. Sie sollen endlich mit dem Wahlkampf anfangen und ihre Inhalte in den Vordergrund stellen.
One of the greatest benefits of studying at LSE has been to attend public lectures by world leaders and academics. So far my highlight had been the 3-day “tour de growth” with Philippe Aghion. After last night I feel that the most (academically) stimulating experience has been Andrew Moravcsik’s lecture on the “European Constitutional Settlement”.
As a committed federalist I have often found it difficult to agree with Moravcsik’s analysis of the process of European integration. Since his landmark studies in the early 1990s he has long been the defender of the intergovernmental method – acknowledging continuing control in the hand of EU member states. My experience working in and around EU politics over the last 9 years has been different but I have always valued Moravcsik’s contribution as a valid intellectual and academic challenge to any federalist.
Apparently the game is set. WELT am Sonntag (or AFP) writes yesterday that a deal has been struck for all the upcoming EU top posts in 2009. Thanks to a clever buy-out of the British (by appointing Brown’s most likely challenger David Miliband as EU foreign minister) Juncker can become president of the European Council and Barroso can remain Commission President. Welt writes that even the liberals will have a job: Anders Fogh Rasmussen may become NATO Secretary General. The 2009 table should look like this then:
Commission President: Barroso (again from November 2009 as leader of the new Commission)
EU High Representatitive for Foreign Policy (foreign minister): David Miliband (from November 2009 – with the new Commission)
President of the European Council: Jean-Claude Juncker (from 1st January)
EP president: Jerzy Buzek (EPP, first half), Martin Schulz (PPE, second half – if not German EU Commissioner)
NATO Secretary General: Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Obviously the Brith Foreign Office is denying the speculations… (s. Reuters). But to me the whole deal makes a lot of sense. Not only that the chosen people are promising to be capable, but also in terms of political logic this mighit actually work out.
I have previously written here about the nomination of the next German EU Commissioner. Now that these speculations have geared up in recent days Angela Merkel has sent her spokesman out to clarify her position. According to an article in Frankfurter Rundschau the decision for the next German Commissioner will be taken a) by this government and b) in consensus between the governing parties.
The newspaper mentions Altmaier, Hintze, Brok and Koch as possible candidates for the CDU.
What is interesting in all these debates in Germany is that there has been no demand or speculation whatsoever for one of the three top posts for a German politician. It is only some foreign newspapers and commentators who mention Merkel as a candidate for the job of president of the European Council. But under given circumstances this scenario is utterly unlikely as long as Merkel has the best chances of winning the next general election in September 2009.
Eon’s announcement last week to sell its grid was a massive blow in the face of the German government. Now German consumer groups and SPD MPs demand that “the state” should buy Eon’s grid in order to avoid Gazprom and alikes to buy themselves into the German market.
I think that the EU should float a massive investment vehicle together with the EIB and take over the energy grid inside the EU step-by-step. Then a European regulator could put fair prices and oversee sustainable investment into the grid. Such an approach of creating European public goods besides modern developments (e.g. Galileo) would best fit where the EU has its policy competences in any case. – It is clear that energy will remain as one of the core challenges over years to come and the Commission can create free and fair market conditions only if it gains direct access on regulation and investment. – In addition to breaking the European oligopoly market (= better prices for industry and consuemers) this should be of additional help to less well-off member states who can expect a serious investment in their grid infrastructure thanks to EU and EIB funds.
Now such a project would be a bold step for a bold Commission!