Europe’s disreputable system for ‘fixing’ its president

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

“Europe needs an ethically robust system to choose a real leader with civic guts and moral courage,” writes David Price, founder of the Schuman.info website, in a July post on Blogactiv.

“It is a damning commentary on the democratic ethics of the 27 governments of the EU that they choose the president of the European Commission in secret, without any recourse to democracy,” Price writes.

“It is far, far from the democratic principles that Robert Schuman announced sixty years ago,” he explains, adding: “It is a far cry from the principles of human rights that Schuman and others formulated in 1948-50 and set as European law.”

“How should Europeans elect the European Commission? Who should be Europe’s leader? Shouldn’t all Europeans be involved in the election?,” Price asks.

“Candidates for the Commission sometimes mysteriously appear,” he laments, complaining that “an impartial, non-political and independent-minded person with civic courage is considered an outcast by the Council”.

Nevertheless, “the European Commission is the most important body for the political, economic and social future of the European Union,” Price states. “The president of the Commission is the key position in the world’s most important commercial power, the European Union.”

“In one sense, the Commission president is the European equivalent of the president of the United States of America,” he insists, even claiming that “in actual fact it is far more important,” since “the European Union is a larger economic power than the United States”.

According to Price, the EU is “the world’s economic superpower,” especially given that “the USA is in full financial, political and military crisis”. “The dollar and the US economy have slumped, cankered by banking frauds and external debts [while] the euro is constrained by statute from such reckless overspending,” he explains.

Thus, “potentially the European leader can be far more important than the leader of any single country,” the blogger claims. “If Europe has such a policy option for the world, isn’t the election of a European president of enormous importance for the planet?,” he asks.

“The Commission president must work inside a system where impartiality, independence and moral character are required to bring together some thirty countries with different traditions and histories. That requires someone who will listen, someone who is humble, courageous and wise and not a rabble-rouser,” the blog post concludes. 

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