September 8, 2012
(source of the photo © European Commission Audiovisual service)
“The fastest was to pass your own expectations is to add passion to your labor.”
European Commission Vice President Viviane REDING has called for the current Commission President José Manuel Barroso to stay on for an unprecedented third term. She pushed for a third BARROSO term at the Commission in an interview with EurActiv Italy.
Commissioner REDING confirmed that „Besides, with José Manuel Barroso, we have a very good and active president, whom I admire for his strength, his legal mind, his patience and his wisdom in managing the current crisis. He is by the way a couple of years younger than I. So my personal wish would be that José Manuel stays on for a third term. Because I am sure that we need continuity and stability at the helm of governments in the years to come to continue to make Europe stronger and more resilient to future crises.”
There is nothing personal in my opinion you’ll read below. Let’s make it clear: I am a personal fan of Mr BARROSO and I appreciate very much his efforts to keep the European idea alive. Do you still remember the roars of the EU lion at the G20 summit? In addition to that the whole discussion about a possible third term isn’t fair for Mr BARROSO in some way since it wasn’t he who launched this public discussion inconvenient for him. Nonetheless, Mr BARROSO bears personal responsibility as the Commission’s President what the Commissioners say since he is their boss after all. And even the words of the Commission’s vice-president cannot make an exception.
Having said that, I cannot subscribe to a potential third term of Mr BARROSO because of several reasons. May I mention just 3 of them.
REASON 1: a third term is not fully democratic in the sense that variety is the core principle of democracy. Varietas Delectat. Democracy is about making choices and the more choices we have the better. Even the United States, one of the oldest democratic federal state of the world decided to limit the presidential mandate to 2 terms maximum, after seeing the so called ‘Roosevelt phenomenon’. Why shouldn’t the EU follow this example?
REASON 2: a third term is not effective enough. The EU has as many as cca. 500 million habitants– a quite many of them could be potential candidates. Shall we throw away the possibility of using all advantages of these talents? We could let fresh air coming into the European framework instead of keeping the usual way of doing businesses.
REASON 3: a third term is not flexible but rigid. One of the usual arguments in favour of that initiative is the need for stability. As a Hungarian EU Presidency veteran, I can well remember the often quoted arguments in order to replace to rotating 6 months Council Presidencies with a permanent one. Well, the EU has made already a timid step to that direction with the inclusion of the permanent president of the European Council to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) who is Mr VAN ROMPUY for the time being. However, we can clearly see that the simple permanent position cannot be alone the solution.
What is my proposition?
I agree that Europe need (if you like: urgent) changes – including the institutional framework. And yes, there are still good possibilities to improve the quality of the high political management of the EU. Let’s have a look on the acts, statements, opinion of Mr. VAN ROMPUY and of Mr BARROSO: there are not so many differences between them and even the existing ones aren’t really relevant. The tandem at the top of the EU makes extremely difficult the effective action of the EU and causes confusions in the global political dialogues.
Let’s make things easier and more simple: let’s elect one single person as the President of either the Commission and the European Council.
I have good news for those who are afraid of a time consuming Treaty change in that regard: no Treaty change is required for that purpose. Based on the current text of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), a common COM-CEU President is possible. Actually, it is more than possible: it is highly recommended.
So please, Mr BARROSO, don’t play with the fire. With all due respect, we recognise and admire your personal skills and excellent job you have done as the esteemed President of the Commission. But please, do not run for a third term!
My nutshell summary: YES for the heritage of Barroso I-II, but NO for Barroso III.
I remain at your disposal.
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Related earlier updates:Zoltán Massay-Kosubek