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Van Der Leyen may have a distaste for disruption, but democracy in action can also be quite disruptive, and for legitimate reasons. Brexiteers (and others) have always characterised the Commission as an unaccountable elite impervious to political pressures.

That has never been more than partly true - plenty of Commissioners have failed to achieve the approval of the European parliament. What was wrong here is that the European Parliament (or relevant subcommittee) was even sitting and never got to debate the issue. Hogan should have been accountable to them.

Martin and Varadkar were always going to respond to domestic political pressures. Hogan's behaviour created an outrage similar to that created by Cummings in the UK. But they had no power to (and didn't) demand his sacking. Van Der Leyen could have simply referred the matter to the EP and let Hogan make his case there.

Some lesser sanction by the EP might have result in the whole matter blowing over after a couple of weeks. The current clumsy process whereby the EP can only approve/disapprove of the Commission as a whole needs to be reformed. Commissioners should be subject to regular hearings before the relevant sub-committees of the EP and censored or sanctioned by a range of measures if they are deemed to fall short of the standards required.

That is democracy in action, not the baying of the media or the howling of the mob. There was/is a lot of popular frustration at the restrictions of the lockdown, and it had to be vented somehow. If an Irish Cabinet Minister had to resign in consequence, why not an EU Commissioner?

The answer is that it is for the EP to decide, and I am surprised there haven't been more calls for it to have done so. Can there not be even a standing committee to deal with such matters in August while the rest of Parliament is on leave? It is time the EP became more relevant and engaged with matters that concern the citizenry.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 at 10:37:49 AM EST
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The Commission is what it is... the fact that the president is chosen by the Council, rather than elected by Parliament, is its original sin.

But given this, the rest of its functioning is largely modeled on governmental norms in constituent nations. A  Prime Minister is responsible, at least in theory, before Parliament, but is free to choose her own Ministers; the Commission's executive president, in the current confederal model, must work with the pool of talent made available by governments.

However, in at least one respect, the Commission model is more democratic than that of any member nation (that I know of), in that Parliament gets to audition and confirm -- or reject -- each nominee. And increasingly uses this right to chuck out those national nominees that appear too extremist, incompetent or corrupt.

But parliamentary sanctions for sitting Commissioners ? How could that possibly work?

I'm not seeing any power grab here : Hogan resigned, inconveniently but rightly; the President solicits nominees, but has a lot of coercitive power over who is an acceptable nominee, and what job they get. And that's as it should be. Obviously the nominated person should be subject to a Parliamentary hearing, and approval or rejection.

As for the gender balance thing, I think van der Leyden has a pretty clear mandate for that, both from Council and Parliament, but must be free to implement it as best she can within the Framework. I think it's a good call on her part to insist on a woman.  

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 9th, 2020 at 05:22:16 PM EST
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Parliamentary subcommittees in Ireland (and the USA) have the right to hold hearings into controversies and demand that the relevant Minister attend to give an account of their actions/stewardship. They can vote no confidence if they want him/her to resign, or a vote of censure if they want to give him/her a formal warning. If the vote is confirmed by the whole parliament it should be mandatory.  Lesser sanctions could include recommendations to perform specific remedial actions and all the implied criticism they contain. The Presidentof the Commission/Prime Minister could also reshuffle, demote, sack the errant Minister if they are deemed to damage the cabinet/college as a whole.  The whole process would greatly increase the profile/relevance of the parliament and the perceived accountability of the executive.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Sep 10th, 2020 at 03:29:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]