The European Council - EU heads of state or government - should honour the citizens’ choice when proposing a candidate for Commission president, to be elected by Parliament under the new Lisbon Treaty arrangements, says a resolution adopted on Thursday. As many members of the next Commission as possible should be chosen from among elected MEPs, says Parliament.
"Our proposals aim at strengthening the European Commission’s democratic legitimacy, ensuring that the separation of powers in the European Union is properly applied and enabling the European Parliament to exercise its power of scrutiny to the full. I believe that this will help to improve the sustainability of the EU democratic process," said the rapporteur, Paulo Rangel (EPP, PT).
The text, approved by 298 votes to 102, with 25 abstentions, stresses that the new procedure whereby the European Commission president is elected by Parliament “will make the European elections more important, by linking the voters' choice in the elections to the European Parliament more directly to the election of the Commission president”.
Parliament expects the candidates for Commission president to play a significant role in the campaign for the European elections, by distributing and promoting in all member states the political programme of their European political party.
European Council urged to honour EU citizens’ choice
MEPs invite the European Council to clarify, in a timely manner and before the elections, "how it will take account of the elections to the European Parliament and honour the citizens’ choice when putting forward a candidate for president of the Commission", in the context of consultations to take place between Parliament and the European Council under Declaration 11 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty (text below).
Once the candidate has been designated by the European Council, he or she should be asked to present to the European Parliament the political guidelines for his or her mandate, followed by a comprehensive exchange of views, before the House elects the proposed candidate for president of the Commission.
Commissioners should be chosen from among MEPs
The Commission president-elect should act more autonomously than has been the case in the past when selecting the other members of the EU’s executive body, MEPs say. They urge him/her to insist with the member states’ governments that "the candidates for the office of Commissioner must enable him/her to compose a gender-balanced college, and allow him/her to reject any proposed candidate who fails to demonstrate general competence, European commitment or unquestionable independence".
The resolution requests that "as many members of the next Commission as possible be chosen from among elected members of the European Parliament".
Efficiency and size of the next Commission
The reduction in the Commission’s size envisaged under the Lisbon Treaty will no longer take effect in 2014, following the European Council decision taken at the request of the Irish government. "Additional measures, such as the appointment of commissioners without portfolio or the establishment of a system of vice-presidents of the Commission with responsibilities over major thematic clusters and with competences to coordinate the work of the Commission in the corresponding areas, should be envisaged for the more effective functioning of the Commission, without prejudice to the right to appoint one Commissioner per member state and to the voting right of all Commissioners," says the text.
Parliament calls on the next constitutional convention to review the Commission’s size, as well its organisation and functioning. It also calls for a future revision of the EU treaties to reduce the majority of MEPs required for a motion of censure against the Commission from the current two-thirds majority of votes cast, provided this is a majority of the total number of MEPs in Parliament, to a majority of the total number of 751 members of the new Parliament, i.e. at least 376, without putting the proper functioning of the institutions at risk.
Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union says "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".
Declaration 11 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty states that "the European Parliament and the European Council are jointly responsible for the smooth running of the process leading to the election of the President of the European Commission. Prior to the decision of the European Council, representatives of the European Parliament and of the European Council will thus conduct the necessary consultations in the framework deemed the most appropriate. These consultations will focus on the backgrounds of the candidates for President of the Commission, taking account of the elections to the European Parliament, in accordance with the first subparagraph of Article 17(7). The arrangements for such consultations may be determined, in due course, by common accord between the European Parliament and the European Council".