Democrat May-June 2014 Editorial (Number 141)
Cameron is talking to his troops and sowing confusion to the electorate ahead of the EU summit on 26-27 June. His very public objections to the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker is part of a scheme to convince Euroscepticism in his own party and the electorate in general that he is going to be able to obtain changes to EU Treaties and the European Constitution. To amend the Lisbon Treaty would require all 28 EU Member States to agree to these changes. In turn that may trigger referendums, or at least the demand for them. This is especially so in Ireland where the electorate have rejected the changes and then been forced to vote again to get the right pro-EU vote.
Juncker has been a former Governor of the World Bank, Finance Minister and Prime Minister of Luxembourg. He has also been the president of the Eurogroup of 18 Finance Ministers of the Eurozone Member States. This institution has political control over the EU's Monetary Union and the Satability and Growth Pact from which stem the austerity policies applied across the EU including here in Britain with devastating effect. There is more austerity to come unless stopped by the labour movement and change in policies of trade unions and the Labour Party.
The Eurogroup has become a powerful EU institution as formalised in the Lisbon Treaty. They meet in secret on the day before Ecofin meetings of all 28 EU finance ministers including Chancellor of the Exchequer , George Osborne or his representative. These are also held in secret.
President of the European Commission is the most powerful officer in the EU. The Commission is the executive of the EU and the only institution which can initiate EU legislation. The European Parliament cannot legislate except in minor unobtrusive ways, but does have to approve the President.
The President is appointed by the Council of Ministers for a five year renewable term following the European Parliament poll. Qualified majority Voting is used by the Council which rules out smaller Member States having any real say in the result. The large Member States have the largest votes and can combine together and obtain their way. Britain does not have enough votes even with smaller Members to prevent Juncker being appointed.
In the scheme of EU machinations voting in this poll is supposed to be reflected in the choice of the Commission President. But, hardly anyone had heard of Juncker until Cameron drew attention to him and in any case there is no democracy within the EU and voters have no say what-so-ever in such appointments.
The President in turn appoints 28 Commissioners each with a portfolio which in practice is one per Member State. The Commission is heavily influenced by corporate lobbies drawn from the major transnational corporations. These lobbies formalised in the European Round Table of Industrialists have drafted legislation and treaties for their benefit, their interests and their profits.
However, the toothless European Parliament may censure and remove the President and Commission from office. This nearly happened with the Jacques Santer led Commission over corruption but they resigned before they were forced out. The European Parliament cannot nominate either the President or Commissioners. The majority of MEPs are from centre right political parties and can veto all nominations except that of Juncker.
The Commission President represents the EU at G8 meetings. The Vice President is the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, and competes with the President in this important area. There is also a conflict of powers with the President of the European Council of Ministers, Van Rompuy. Both presidents attend international meetings (summits).
On the table are propositions to merge the posts of Commission President and Council Presidents to avoid conflicts. This would make the combined post even more powerful, shift if further still from any accountability and is part of the growing anti-thesis of all norms of democracy in the EU.
An objective of Cameron and his multi-millionaire colleagues in the cabinet and Tory Party is to head off holding a promised referendum on EU membership. The labour and trade union movement must tear down the obsession with the EU and support the thrust for a referendum. To win masses of votes the Labour Party, for its own sake, must adopt a policy for withdrawal from the EU and drop support for the austerity policies which stem from Brussels. This would allow the rational development of Britain.