October 20, 2009
Regarding ‘Commission must address ‘rigid’ recruitment system‘:
The first question to ask is: what is the Commission for? Then it can be decided who is to be recruited and how. If the commissioners are to be all political, and composed of national or even nationalistic representatives (as national politicians decided secretly in the Council under its French chairmanship without asking the 500 million people whom they theoretically represent), then it would also be logical that the staff is recruited according to political loyalties and national attributes.
This is clearly nonsense and a way to anarchy. This merely repeats what we have had in our long, failed European past. It led to conflicts and power politics. It is exactly what the founders – Schuman, Bech, Luns, Spaak and others – wanted to avoid at all costs. Why? Because it is dangerous, especially for small states. The purpose of the Community is to avoid power politics, whether national or political, or hidden cartels. The Commission must be INDEPENDENT of all interest groups in society.
A further danger they recognised is technocratic. The staff does not have to be intensely technical because the founding fathers provided the means (not yet in full use) to gather all the high-tech information required for European legislation from the entire population (this was the opposite of unrepresentative secret comitology!!!)
The risk in recruiting technical experts from industry to the Commission is that it lays the EU executive open to recruiting from dominant firms with ulterior or selfish motives, rather than the common good.
Once working properly, the original five institutions are adequate to provide impartial, independent expertise underpinned by democracy and the rule of law. The only question is the correct implementation.
The founding fathers also warned against having active politicians as Commissioners. They should be non-political, in other words, they should resign party membership before taking office, as they did in the past. Commissioners should best be recruited from the 98% of the population who do not hold party cards. Why? Because it is childishly easy for powerful interest groups to influence political parties, whether financial groups,industrial, trade unions, consumer lobbyists, or hidden cartels.
The Commission is supposed to be the anti-cartel agency for ALL European citizens, an honest broker, not a partisan. A political cartel of two or three parties in the Commission is not freedom, nor is it representative.
The Commission should seek out the common European good with the help of all citizens and democratically-elected institutions, including non-political civil society organisations. Lobbyists in European associations should be confined to the Economic and Social Committee where they were supposed to be in permanent debate with each other and then in permanent dialogue with the Commission. A review of the Community’s just and fair, foundational principles would be useful in this debate.
David PriceLetters to the EurActiv editor