The European Commission 2004-09: A Politically Weakened Institution?

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

The European Commission has been “politically weakened” under President José Manuel Barroso’s stewardship, suggests a European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN) report compiled by national experts from 25 EU member states.

The report comes as the Barroso Commission nears the end of its term, and national governments must decide whether or not to offer Barroso another five-year term at the EU executive’s helm. 

From the perspective of the member states, “a picture emerges of a European Commission that has become politically weakened vis-à-vis the other institutions and in the Union as a whole,” claims the report. 

The EPIN paper states that the “dominant perception” in national capitals is that the Commission is no longer the institution that seeks “higher standards of ‘Community interest'”. 

The report further claims governments are perceiving that the lowest common denominator is “no longer determined by the Council,” because the EU executive is increasingly anticipating national positions at an earlier stage and taking them into account at the preparatory level. 

The EPIN paper tells of a perceived Commission bias towards larger member states “at the expense of smaller ones”. 

Meanwhile, the report identifies the EU executive’s “single most important failure” as its inability to foresee and respond to the financial and economic crisis, adding that the actions that the Commission did take were largely viewed as being “too little, too late”. 

Ending on a positive note, the EPIN report concludes that the “most-appreciated” Commission initiative was the adoption of the climate and energy Package, which appears to have been “widely appreciated across the EU”. 

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