Why hasn’t Jean-Claude Juncker resigned?
The European Commission, Council of Ministers and the European Parliament are answerable and accountable, theoretically to all the EU members but in practice to nobody.
MEPs are accountable in the sense that they are voted in every 5 years. But in many countries that use party list systems of voting, candidates are simply put on a list by their party and the voters have no or a limited say on who is going to be elected.
In most countries it is very difficult to present a new list alongside the lists of the traditional parties represented in the national parliaments. Voters have a formal choice but not necessarily a real possibility to have their own views being represented by an MP or MEP. ……..
MEPs receive €4,299 per month in a general expenses allowance. MEPs do not need to deliver any proof as to how their money has been spent.
Commissioners need to be accountable to the European Parliament. They are obliged to answer questions from MEPs both orally and in writing. Many MEPs do not feel that they receive satisfactory answers. Many believe that the Commissioners are hiding too much; ………. You should also have the right to know how the different Commissioners vote on the different topics put on their table, but at present one has no idea.
During 2004-14, under the mandate of Commission President Barroso, the Commissioners did not vote among themselves at all. Discussions took place behind closed doors on proposals for new EU laws. The Commission President often reads a text prepared by his official services. There is usually no real political debate. The President concludes. Most decisions are taken in the name of the Commission outside the Commission meeting room ……..
The Commission now publishes agendas and minutes of their decisions. However nowhere can it be seen how they actually came to those decisions. They do not provide access to documents relating to their discussions or preparations. EU Commissioners give information about the amounts spent on representation. Yet this does not happen for individual spending, unlike what journalists can receive or request in most countries from their national ministers. …… Commissioners may hire special advisors. These names are now published – but the information does not include the salaries paid for the special advice they may receive from political friends or others.
Commissioners are proposed by the prime ministers or presidents of the member states. Often a prime minister or president proposes a candidate who could no longer be elected as an MP or appointed as a minister in his or her own country. When former Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed Peter Mandelson as an EU Commissioner he had already been twice rejected as a minister by the British Parliament at Westminster.
Prime Ministers may sometimes propose the names of national politicians they want to get rid of. There is no election procedure safeguarding voters so that they may have the best candidate from their country.
There is some EU accountability in some of the national parliaments. In Denmark the European Affairs committee has met in public every Friday since October 2006 and it can give negotiating mandates to Danish ministers before the latter can approve something in the EU Council of Ministers.
There is no other EU country where ministers need to have a negotiating mandate for such votes at EU level. In most countries the national MPs are rather badly informed about EU law proposals and have no real influence. Even in Denmark it is normally the civil servants in the ministries who decide and implement the Danish position in the 275 Council working groups.
They are assisted by 35 special committees composed of representatives from business organisations and NGOs in an tightly woven corporative system.
The ordinary members of parliament, the media and citizens are sidelined in the important preparatory phase where most EU decisions are prepared and then adopted.
The President of the European Commission – a former PM of Luxembourg – is the living face of the privileged, protected, arrogant, unaccountable bureaucracy that is Brussels. The EC – more than anybody – else is the reason for the deep and widespread dissatisfaction in Europe with the way in which the EU operates and where it is headed.
It is time for Jean-Claude Juncker to resign. And that means that the leaders of the core countries need to tell him to go.