Buzek suggests electing EU commissioners

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Jerzy Buzek, the Polish president of the European Parliament, has suggested that future EU commissioners should compete in Europe-wide elections to get a "democratic mandate".

Buzek, who is on a two-day visit in Berlin, made his proposal during a speech delivered at Humboldt University on Monday (22 March), according to the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

He suggested a "parlamentarisation" of the European Commission, which he claimed decides about 65% of the laws adopted at the national level.

"We do not need to change the treaties," Buzek said. "We just have to convince the EU countries to add their commissioner candidates to the lists for the European elections," he explained.

"These people could be leaders of these lists," he added. "Future commissioners who will compete in the European elections will have a democratic mandate, because they will be elected by universal suffrage," Buzek explained.

"We would come closer to the European demos goal," he stressed.

National egotism

"Here, a little more than 20 years ago in the former East Berlin, people remembered that they belonged to one nation. They chanted in the streets: 'Wir sind ein Volk' ('We are one nation'). They were guided by the idea of German unification," Buzek said, recalling the democratic demonstrations in the former communist East Germany in autumn 1989.

"In this way we must change the attitude of our citizens, and say: 'Wir sind das Volk Europas' ('We are the nation of Europe'). We need to create a European identity of citizens, a new sense of belonging," he added.

Buzek warned against returning to national egotism in the EU, saying the Lisbon Treaty had created "a new institutional management order of the European Union". Some, however, are "now frightened and try to undermine the work of European institutions," he said.

"You can't allow this. Citizens and politicians need to know that today by weakening Europe we don't reinforce nation states. [On the contrary] we weaken them," he said.

"In a globalised world, there won't be strong national countries in Europe if there is no strong European Union. The globalised world undermines EU nation states," Buzek added.

"Europe is a system of connected vessels. If one pipe breaks in this complicated system, it will affect the whole system," the Parliament president said, concluding: "No time for retreat. Coming back to national egoism won't bring us anything."

Only three of the 27 present commissioners were elected in the June 2009 European Parliament elections:

  • Michel Barnier, French commissioner for the internal market and services, was head of list in Ile-de-France constituency.
  • Janusz Lewandowski, Polish commissioner for budget and financial programming, headed the centre-right lists in Pomorska region (North).
  • Viviane Reding, Luxembourg commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, was also elected in June but decided not to take up her seat and continued to work for the EU executive (see EURACTIV LinksDossier on the new Commission).

The next European elections are due to take place in 2014 and the next European Commission will take office that same year.

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