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European Institutions: Hold your fire!

Those involved must calm down and work more towards the common general interest rather than their own political goals. The extremely difficult challenges that Europe now faces from the exterior demand it.

However, the new European institutions will not start work on 1st November as previously planned due to some excessive behaviour. Parliament, Commission and Member States are all at fault.

The regrettable episode of the appointment of the future European Commissioners is illustrates this. In their wish to appoint the President of the European Commission MEPs interpreted the treaties to their own benefit. The latter reserve the prerogative of this for the heads of State and government, who “must take into account the result of the European elections”, which they did by appointing Ursula von der Leyen, a member of the political party that won the election. To take revenge, by subjecting future commissioners to scrutiny/confessions that no democratic parliament in the world reasonably use, was an excessive step; to eliminate two of them, a Romanian and a Hungarian, without even holding a contradictory oral procedure was not worthy of defenders of the rule of law. By acting like this and also via its internal management, Parliament is leading us to believe that it is a vessel of political interests, which do not correspond to those of a collective nature. In its conquest of new powers, might it be that it is neglecting the Union’s cause.

By organising the European Commission in unequal administrative Baronies the new President has overstepped the mark and is in danger of having to run a now ungovernable body. In addition to the Vice-Presidents we have Super Vice-Presidents, who are even ranked by order, and enjoy authority over power General Directorates, thereby reducing the other members of the so-called College to a prudent silence.

It is true that the heads of State and government suspended one of the measures included in the Treaties, which reduced the number of Commissioners to some of the Union’s exclusive competences. This was done so that Ireland would ratify the Lisbon Treaty in 2008. The division of the portfolio between Member States revealed an extremely erroneous conception of the functioning of the Union and a decline in trust between partners. Moreover, European standards must not be inferior to national standards, and someone who deems that he or she should not hold national public office should not imagine that they might be accepted in Brussels. Sylvie Goulard has paid for this.

In all likelihood, some of the former members of the European Central Bank, spurred on by some kind of retroactive courage and anxious investor interest, have felt they can publicly challenge its policy, at the risk of weakening and dividing Europe just that little bit more - but the latter cannot just be reduced to Ordoliberalism. Thank goodness Christine Lagarde is taking over its presidency on November 1st!

It is high time for all of those involved to return to the letter and spirit of the treaties, which must remain the rule. European constitutional law is not just written as it is practiced, in political power struggles or in “interinstitutional agreements”, just like these interminable negotiations, which will again lead Parliament and Commission to the invention of a few novelties.

This is what happens when we refuse to change the treaties, which in fact deserve a thorough clean-up. It is urgent to tidy up European governance, and this applies especially to those who work with it on a daily basis. They must recover a spirit of trust and cooperation, which has been eroded as time has gone by these political games. MEPs take themselves for American Conventionists, which they are not. Heads of State continue to think and act as though European integration were a diplomatic quest, communicating more often than not via their ambassadors. The Commission is not an executive like any other, and it is especially not a government of common law implementing the rules that it prescribes.

The Union itself is going to have to launch debate if it is to lift the veil of uncertainty surrounding a great number of hidden agendas. From the controversial economic policy to institutional governance - indeed there is a great deal of work to be done. In the meantime, everyone should keep to their role and privilege the Union’s higher interest, since it must remain a Community.