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 Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much

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PostSubject: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:36 pm

With the dissipation of the PDs, speculation of the future of PD operatives is rife. This morning a commentator suggested that Mary Harney was a likely candidate for European Commissioner for next year.

The irony of her possibly benefiting from the expected renegotiation of the "One Commissioner per Country" position is sharp indeed, but not my main concern.

I object vehemently to the idea that this person who lead a failed party largely rejected by the country's voters, and who has an agenda of privatisation of public services not shared by the majority of voters, should be placed by us in the Commission in a position of much greater power than an Irish member of Cabinet would have.

MrCreery and Sutherland were disasters for ordinary people and ran with a far right wind economic agenda that was not put in front of the electorate here or anywhere.

Once these people are in position, they are not answerable to us any more. It's time that our Commission candidates were put up to some form of public selection. There are far too many "former" elected politicians, either rejected by electorates or who no longer put themselves up for election, in positions of power and influence.

Mary Harney, if she is going to step down from elections, should step out of politics.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:50 pm

I agree, cactusflower. Given that the electorate overwhelmingly rejected the PD agenda last May, Harney should not even be considered for any position, never mind that of a commissioner. As it is, McCreevy's neo-liberalist guff is given short shrift in Europe, we do not need another creature of the same ideological bent to embarrass us further.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 12:57 pm

Perks for services rendered to the political estblishment are the order of the day. I don't see politicians suddenly developing a keen sense of moral awareness in relation to the Euro gravy train. They defo aren't going to put themselves up for election.

On a previous topic I stated that centralisation was becoming, well, the central theme of modern society; whether it be political or economic. I was asked to explain this bold statement and have spent hours searching my various visiting sites (ECB, Eurostats and the OECD) to track down the political summary which stated that Ireland has one of the most centralised goverments in the Western world. I can't damn well find it - but I will. It seems that an august body like the OECD will be believed while we can't trust our own intellects or common sense to see what's before our eyes. ('Tis a strange world.)

If it isn't Mary, it will be someone suitably right-wing in their government and economic outlook. Although I must say that Ireland's desire to portray itself as a cut-throat economic machine is best served by the likes of Mary. Take care of the rich, bamboozle the low wage earner and make vague promises (or threats) to the middle wage earners is enough to keep the gravy train running smoothly along its tracks.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:39 pm

Allow me to interject a little conpiracy theory like opinion.

Not since her defection from FF after the PD's were formed, has this person done anything that could be argued as righteous, and even that's dubious.

Twice now, FF have invited her and her friends into government, eventhough neither the vote mandated it nor did FF need
them to make up numbers (particularly this time round).

Harney has been minister for health twice now, despite being an unmitigated disaster (unless you're a member of IBEC or some body corporate waiting to feast on human misery). Despite it being put about that FF allowed this, to avert direct criticism against themselves, or, that it was a move designed to hasten the reabsorption into the mother party, I don't agree. Both possibilities cancel each other out, in the long run and since the PD's were always on the same page as FF, bad PR and reabsorption are both irrelevant.

Occam's razor supplys the answer. Mary has the dirt on folks.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:01 pm



What, the Party of Clean Politics, indulging in blackmail ?

I remain firmly of the belief that the PDs are politically nothing but FFs Evil Twin.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:37 pm

I striking case for the shake up in how the commission is created, perhaps?

But I wouldn't be terribly worried about her right-wing neo-liberalness all that much. The sutucture of the EU is such that we never really get the wild and varied agends of either left or right. Given that a broad consensus is needed to get things done peoposals tend to be toned down and blunted at the edges and pool towards either ever so slightly left of center or else every so very right of centre.
We currently have a parliament which is on balance more right than it is left, which reflects the make up of national givernments (which in turn is echoed in the commission and Council). I suspect come june 09 it will probably more left orientated.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:40 pm

cookiemonster wrote:
I striking case for the shake up in how the commission is created, perhaps?

Long over due.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:03 pm

cactus flower wrote:
It's time that our Commission candidates were put up to some form of public selection
Excellent idea.With the all the talk there has been of the "democratic defiect" with regard to the EU, this is the kind of solution needed.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:24 pm

eoinmn wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
It's time that our Commission candidates were put up to some form of public selection
Excellent idea.With the all the talk there has been of the "democratic defiect" with regard to the EU, this is the kind of solution needed.

Squire wrote:
cookiemonster wrote:
I striking case for the shake up in how the commission is created, perhaps?

Long over due.

I'm delighted you agree. I think the big issue with the Comission isn't the size but how it comes about. It's benificial that the comission acts supranationally on behalf on the EU rather than on behalf of the nations, but as we've seen from the Irish commissioners (for the sake of discussion lets restrict it to them, there are examples of the samehappening with other nations) that a commission seat is used as a retiring ground (political stud farm) for failed or defunct politicans, it was a golden handshake for McCreevy and the suggestion that it be where harney is foisted off to suggested that is how it is percieved.

Assuming it remains 1 commissione per member (see the Avatar there?) i don't beliebe that of an organisation of 500m people we'll end up with a Commissione for Hats and Dancing, but the tricky question is how such a comissioner would be formed? How would the President be selected? National elections? Any ideas? I have a few of my own half formed ones but they are not ready to be released into the wild yet. But I would genuinely be interested in hearing your answers?

(MODS - this perhaps could be split into a single thread)
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:40 pm

I was a yes voter but the argument around the necessity to cull the number of commissioners always struck me as something of a red herring. I attended a very small meeting last year where a number of MEP's spoke about a range of issues. Kathy Sinnott (somebody who I have absolutely no time for) pointed to the conference table (which had 22 occupied seats) and asked at the end of the meeting if adding five people to the table would have resulted in a catastrophic communication failure or an inability to have a productive conversation. While I understand that her remark is a gross trivialisation of the broader issues, I understood and appreciated her central point.

I like the idea of some kind of direct election. Could it be run along the lines of the Irish Presidential election? If candidates met the selection criteria (haven't given that any thought), could the state then provide funding for each campaign? That way, candidates could presumably be forbidden from standing on party tickets or associating with any national political party during the course of the election. I understand that there would still be plenty of comments around affiliations and associations but it might make for a less partisan and predictable debate. Anyway I can't say I've ever given this issue any thought so that suggestion might be totally off the wall. I'd be interested in hearing other's views as this is an interesting question.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:48 pm

unaligned wrote:
I was a yes voter but the argument around the necessity to cull the number of commissioners always struck me as something of a red herring. I attended a very small meeting last year where a number of MEP's spoke about a range of issues. Kathy Sinnott (somebody who I have absolutely no time for) pointed to the conference table (which had 22 occupied seats) and asked at the end of the meeting if adding five people to the table would have resulted in a catastrophic communication failure or an inability to have a productive conversation. While I understand that her remark is a gross trivialisation of the broader issues, I understood and appreciated her central point.

I'm not sure - why, in that case, introduce what was always bound to be an unpopular move? Committee size does make a difference, and the drop-off when a committee gets too big to operate effectively is quite sharp. Still, it is solvable to a fair extent by using sub-committees.

unaligned wrote:
I like the idea of some kind of direct election. Could it be run along the lines of the Irish Presidential election? If candidates met the selection criteria (haven't given that any thought), could the state then provide funding for each campaign? That way, candidates could presumably be forbidden from standing on party tickets or associating with any national political party during the course of the election. I understand that there would still be plenty of comments around affiliations and associations but it might make for a less partisan and predictable debate. Anyway I can't say I've ever given this issue any thought so that suggestion might be totally off the wall. I'd be interested in hearing other's views as this is an interesting question.

Direct election always seems the obvious best choice - certainly better than the current system of using the Commission as a disposal mechanism for those who no longer have a place in national politics, but who are too big to kill off, or as a reward for services rendered - but has its own problems.

Supra-national elections I think we can all agree aren't really workable - we wouldn't know who on earth most of the other candidates were, and 99% of people would simply line up and vote on national lines.

National elections? Again, there are a couple of obvious problems. There has to be more than one candidate, obviously, snce otherwise it's a rubber-stamp exercise. How do candidates distinguish themselves from each other? Well, the usual way is to make promises - such and such a programme of legislation, a new widget in every home.

So a competitive election for Commissioner in Ireland will produce a Commissioner who (a) represents a subset of the electorate (better than the current position), and (b) has promised to implement a specific programme at a European level that benefits the subset of the Irish electorate that he/she represents.

Is it not immediately obvious why this is a bad idea? It destroys the Commission as the only specifically EU body. It translates up to a European level exactly the kind of problems we often have here, where a Minister treats his Department as a pork barrel for his constituency, and a source of re-election material for his next campaign. It leads to an scramble for the "plum" Directorates - who the heck wants to be the Multilingualism Commissioner - but we can guarantee that the German Commissioner (who really will now be the German Commissioner) will be able to get his programme implemented, and won't be stuck with multilingualism as a brief. In turn, it exacerbates inter-directorate feuding for money and resources, as Commissioners fight to get the pork they need to get re-elected. It leads to political grandstanding, spin, national squabbling - all the worst features of national politics, pointlessly replicated at a European level.

Really, I can't think of a worse option - superficially attractive, but with appalling consequences.

The only way I could see direct election being workable is if there is no campaigning whatsoever. Not capped campaigning, but no campaigning. The candidates' CVs and track record would be made available for scrutiny through a body like the Referendum Commission, and people would be entirely entitled to debate their respective merits and champion their favourite, but absolutely nothing to be heard from the candidates themselves - no interviews, no press releases, no party endorsements - on pain of immediate disqualification.

By the way, it seems not to have been raised - but nothing in the Treaties requires that Commissioners be chosen in the traditional smoke-filled back room. It requires no EU-level change for the Irish Commissioner to be chosen democratically, or by lot, or by augury. We can choose our Commissioner candidates by any mechanism we like, and supply that list to the EU as the definitive list of Irish candidates, ranked in order of our preference.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:56 pm

Quote :
[quote="ibis"]
unaligned wrote:
I was a yes voter but the argument around the necessity to cull the number of commissioners always struck me as something of a red herring. I attended a very small meeting last year where a number of MEP's spoke about a range of issues. Kathy Sinnott (somebody who I have absolutely no time for) pointed to the conference table (which had 22 occupied seats) and asked at the end of the meeting if adding five people to the table would have resulted in a catastrophic communication failure or an inability to have a productive conversation. While I understand that her remark is a gross trivialisation of the broader issues, I understood and appreciated her central point.

I'm not sure - why, in that case, introduce what was always bound to be an unpopular move? Committee size does make a difference, and the drop-off when a committee gets too big to operate effectively is quite sharp. Still, it is solvable to a fair extent by using sub-committees.

unaligned wrote:
I like the idea of some kind of direct election. Could it be run along the lines of the Irish Presidential election? If candidates met the selection criteria (haven't given that any thought), could the state then provide funding for each campaign? That way, candidates could presumably be forbidden from standing on party tickets or associating with any national political party during the course of the election. I understand that there would still be plenty of comments around affiliations and associations but it might make for a less partisan and predictable debate. Anyway I can't say I've ever given this issue any thought so that suggestion might be totally off the wall. I'd be interested in hearing other's views as this is an interesting question.

Direct election always seems the obvious best choice - certainly better than the current system of using the Commission as a disposal mechanism for those who no longer have a place in national politics, but who are too big to kill off, or as a reward for services rendered - but has its own problems.

Supra-national elections I think we can all agree aren't really workable - we wouldn't know who on earth most of the other candidates were, and 99% of people would simply line up and vote on national lines.

National elections? Again, there are a couple of obvious problems. There has to be more than one candidate, obviously, snce otherwise it's a rubber-stamp exercise. How do candidates distinguish themselves from each other? Well, the usual way is to make promises - such and such a programme of legislation, a new widget in every home.

So a competitive election for Commissioner in Ireland will produce a Commissioner who (a) represents a subset of the electorate (better than the current position), and (b) has promised to implement a specific programme at a European level that benefits the subset of the Irish electorate that he/she represents.

Is it not immediately obvious why this is a bad idea? It destroys the Commission as the only specifically EU body. It translates up to a European level exactly the kind of problems we often have here, where a Minister treats his Department as a pork barrel for his constituency, and a source of re-election material for his next campaign. It leads to an scramble for the "plum" Directorates - who the heck wants to be the Multilingualism Commissioner - but we can guarantee that the German Commissioner (who really will now be the German Commissioner) will be able to get his programme implemented, and won't be stuck with multilingualism as a brief. In turn, it exacerbates inter-directorate feuding for money and resources, as Commissioners fight to get the pork they need to get re-elected. It leads to political grandstanding, spin, national squabbling - all the worst features of national politics, pointlessly replicated at a European level.

Really, I can't think of a worse option - superficially attractive, but with appalling consequences.

The only way I could see direct election being workable is if there is no campaigning whatsoever. Not capped campaigning, but no campaigning. The candidates' CVs and track record would be made available for scrutiny through a body like the Referendum Commission, and people would be entirely entitled to debate their respective merits and champion their favourite, but absolutely nothing to be heard from the candidates themselves - no interviews, no press releases, no party endorsements - on pain of immediate disqualification.

By the way, it seems not to have been raised - but nothing in the Treaties requires that Commissioners be chosen in the traditional smoke-filled back room. It requires no EU-level change for the Irish Commissioner to be chosen democratically, or by lot, or by augury. We can choose our Commissioner candidates by any mechanism we like, and supply that list to the EU as the definitive list of Irish candidates, ranked in order of our preference.[/
Democracy really is a messy business. The problem comes as you say with the perception that the officeholder will be able to give prefential treatment to one party or another - but wait - Commissioners can do just at the moment that without going to the trouble of getting elected.

Thanks for that information - at present a number of people / a person is put forward by the Irish Government for consideration by the Commission, which appoints, isn't it so?

So the Irish government can identify that person in any way seen fit.

I think the idea that Commissioners appointments could continue to be quiet behind the scene decisions without public interest or involvement will inevitably become untenable as people become more aware of the power and influence of the Commission to affect their lives.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 6:47 pm

Thanks for such a detailed response. I'm sort of feeling around in the dark on this issue so you'll have to excuse the big knowledge gaps in places.

ibis wrote:

Is it not immediately obvious why this is a bad idea? It destroys the Commission as the only specifically EU body. It translates up to a European level exactly the kind of problems we often have here, where a Minister treats his Department as a pork barrel for his constituency, and a source of re-election material for his next campaign. It leads to an scramble for the "plum" Directorates - who the heck wants to be the Multilingualism Commissioner - but we can guarantee that the German Commissioner (who really will now be the German Commissioner) will be able to get his programme implemented, and won't be stuck with multilingualism as a brief. In turn, it exacerbates inter-directorate feuding for money and resources, as Commissioners fight to get the pork they need to get re-elected. It leads to political grandstanding, spin, national squabbling - all the worst features of national politics, pointlessly replicated at a European level.

I take your point, certainly in regard to the pork barrel issue and I agree that it would not necessarily be desirable that members of such a body would be required to keep an eye on their 'constituency' and the electorate.

That said, is it not possible to take issue with your contention that 'It destroys the Commission as the only specifically EU body.'

Does that statement presuppose agreement that the Commission acts (even loosely) in our best interests? Does the Commission serve the European Union or does it serve us, the residents of the European Union? I know this is a somewhat simplistic question but I do believe that it is worth addressing in the context of the above statement. For instance, Peter Mandelson's appointment matched exactly the criteria that you laid out above. Namely, very powerful people wanted him to exit the national stage and an appropriate and dignified exit route was found in the shape of the Commission. He is now driving an agenda that would likely be considered highly divisive and unpalatable by a wide cross-section of EU residents. Given that the EU represents us, I assume it follows that the Commissioners also represent our interests (in so far as one person can represent the interests of 27 different states). What method of recourse does a resident have if he or she wishes to express displeasure at the tactics or strategy that a Commissioner is pursuing? It strikes me as strange to bemoan the destrustion of the only 'specifically EU body' when that body seems to embody a lot of the democratic deficit and disconnect that we wish to address.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:11 pm

Who'll we send out? I'm for sending out Dempsey, he's not a total fuck-up, but he doesn't do himself any favours either. Being a Favoured Son of the Party has kept him from being demoted in my opinion.

If Brussels is the land of banishment it's made out to be, I think Hanafin's a likley bet.

As for electing the commissioner, hmmm. They're not supposed to be representing any country in particular. It sounds very American top me to elect civil servants, how does that work out for them? If we start ewlecting them, do all the other countries have to do the same?
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:43 pm

Some very educational information being printed on this thread.

I can't help but feel that the EU is starting to look like the Eurovision Song Contest. We'll send someone who can just about hold a note (excepting Dustin), but we really don't want to send our best and brightest, for fear of the consequences.

I don't agree that the public should have to elect these persons. It wouldn't really improve upon the current methodology where a lame horse avoids the knacker's yard. It would become a popularity contest for mostly lame horses and the demographics of an election would complicate matters beyond belief.

I think an all party body should be convened to draft a set of requirements deemed necessary for the position (and lodge it in the public domain before anything else happens). Best available candidate gets the position. Take the political wheeling and dealing out of the equation and the problem mostly goes away. Afterall, the person selected is not necessarily going to represent Ireland at all, needlessly over politicising the selection and job gives the impression that this is otherwise.


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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:57 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Democracy really is a messy business. The problem comes as you say with the perception that the officeholder will be able to give prefential treatment to one party or another - but wait - Commissioners can do just at the moment that without going to the trouble of getting elected.

They can, but are under no pressure to do so. Under an elective system, they will be able to, and they will be under public pressure to do so, particularly if they hope for re-election - and that's in addition to any existing pressure.

cactus flower wrote:
Thanks for that information - at present a number of people / a person is put forward by the Irish Government for consideration by the Commission, which appoints, isn't it so?

So the Irish government can identify that person in any way seen fit.

Actually, it's the Parliament that has refusal, but refusal is rare enough that only one name goes forward - essentially, the national governments appoint someone - but yes, the method of their appointment is entirely at the discretion of the national government.

cactus flower wrote:
I think the idea that Commissioners appointments could continue to be quiet behind the scene decisions without public interest or involvement will inevitably become untenable as people become more aware of the power and influence of the Commission to affect their lives.

Well, the influence and power of the Commission in legislative terms is not all that great - it has been in decline for the last two decades. They do propose legislation, but it needs to get past the Council, and increasingly the Parliament (more had Lisbon passed), both of whom can amend it or refuse it. After that, the job of the Commission becomes essentially the same as upper echelons of any civil service.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:33 pm

unaligned wrote:
Thanks for such a detailed response. I'm sort of feeling around in the dark on this issue so you'll have to excuse the big knowledge gaps in places.

ibis wrote:

Is it not immediately obvious why this is a bad idea? It destroys the Commission as the only specifically EU body. It translates up to a European level exactly the kind of problems we often have here, where a Minister treats his Department as a pork barrel for his constituency, and a source of re-election material for his next campaign. It leads to an scramble for the "plum" Directorates - who the heck wants to be the Multilingualism Commissioner - but we can guarantee that the German Commissioner (who really will now be the German Commissioner) will be able to get his programme implemented, and won't be stuck with multilingualism as a brief. In turn, it exacerbates inter-directorate feuding for money and resources, as Commissioners fight to get the pork they need to get re-elected. It leads to political grandstanding, spin, national squabbling - all the worst features of national politics, pointlessly replicated at a European level.

I take your point, certainly in regard to the pork barrel issue and I agree that it would not necessarily be desirable that members of such a body would be required to keep an eye on their 'constituency' and the electorate.

That said, is it not possible to take issue with your contention that 'It destroys the Commission as the only specifically EU body.'

Does that statement presuppose agreement that the Commission acts (even loosely) in our best interests? Does the Commission serve the European Union or does it serve us, the residents of the European Union? I know this is a somewhat simplistic question but I do believe that it is worth addressing in the context of the above statement. For instance, Peter Mandelson's appointment matched exactly the criteria that you laid out above. Namely, very powerful people wanted him to exit the national stage and an appropriate and dignified exit route was found in the shape of the Commission. He is now driving an agenda that would likely be considered highly divisive and unpalatable by a wide cross-section of EU residents. Given that the EU represents us, I assume it follows that the Commissioners also represent our interests (in so far as one person can represent the interests of 27 different states). What method of recourse does a resident have if he or she wishes to express displeasure at the tactics or strategy that a Commissioner is pursuing? It strikes me as strange to bemoan the destrustion of the only 'specifically EU body' when that body seems to embody a lot of the democratic deficit and disconnect that we wish to address.

Yes, I can see what you're saying there - and it encapsulates neatly the impetus behind a democratic choice. However, why would a democratic choice address that particular issue? Say Charlie McCreevy, Mary Harney, Joe Higgins, and Prionsias deRossa went forward as candidates for Commissioner next year - which one of those will not wind up "driving an agenda that would likely be considered highly divisive and unpalatable by a wide cross-section of EU residents"? Let's say the UK elects a Commissioner who pursues a rigorously anti-farming agenda (pretty likely!) - we still can't do anything about that. Same for the rest of the other 26 countries - we still have to put up with whoever they think is a good choice, for their own internal reasons.

My own view remains that while appointment is not an ideal system, it produces far less pressure on the Commissioners themselves to act in national interests - hence my comment that electing Commissioners nationally does destroy the Commission as the only specifically EU body.

I would prefer, myself, to see enhancement of the democratic control over the Commission. That avoids the national-favouritism and sub-national agenda problems in the actual Commission -and hence the day to day running of the EU - while subjecting them to those who are, in turn, accountable directly to us. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, national governments do not really seek to apprise their citizens of the extent to which such a system is already in place. As much as possible, national governments both sideline and downplay the role of the EP, which is a pity - and for their own reasons, the eurosceptics are happy to concur. It seems to me, though, that if we want democracy in the heart of Europe, the Parliament is the proper mechanism.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:14 pm

ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Democracy really is a messy business. The problem comes as you say with the perception that the officeholder will be able to give prefential treatment to one party or another - but wait - Commissioners can do just at the moment that without going to the trouble of getting elected.

They can, but are under no pressure to do so. Under an elective system, they will be able to, and they will be under public pressure to do so, particularly if they hope for re-election - and that's in addition to any existing pressure.

cactus flower wrote:
Thanks for that information - at present a number of people / a person is put forward by the Irish Government for consideration by the Commission, which appoints, isn't it so?

So the Irish government can identify that person in any way seen fit.

Actually, it's the Parliament that has refusal, but refusal is rare enough that only one name goes forward - essentially, the national governments appoint someone - but yes, the method of their appointment is entirely at the discretion of the national government.

cactus flower wrote:
I think the idea that Commissioners appointments could continue to be quiet behind the scene decisions without public interest or involvement will inevitably become untenable as people become more aware of the power and influence of the Commission to affect their lives.

Well, the influence and power of the Commission in legislative terms is not all that great - it has been in decline for the last two decades. They do propose legislation, but it needs to get past the Council, and increasingly the Parliament (more had Lisbon passed), both of whom can amend it or refuse it. After that, the job of the Commission becomes essentially the same as upper echelons of any civil service.

Just to clarify, this is from the Europa website:

"A new Commission is appointed every five years, within six months of the elections to the European Parliament. The procedure is as follows:

José Manuel Barroso heads the EU executive as President of the European Commission. The Member State governments agree together on who to designate as the new Commission President.
The Commission President-designate is then approved by Parliament.
The Commission President-designate, in discussion with the Member State governments, chooses the other Members of the Commission.
The Council adopts the list of nominees by qualified majority and communicates it to the European Parliament for approval.
Parliament then interviews each nominee and votes its opinion on the whole team.

Following Parliaments vote of approval, the new Commission is formally appointed by the Council, acting by qualified majority.
The present Commission’s term of office runs until 31 October 2009. Its President is José Manuel Barroso, from Portugal.

The Commission remains politically accountable to Parliament, which has the power to dismiss the whole Commission by adopting a motion of censure. Individual members of the Commission must resign if asked to do so by the President, provided the other commissioners approve.
The Commission attends all the sessions of Parliament, where it must clarify and justify its policies. It also replies regularly to written and oral questions posed by MEPs.

The day-to-day running of the Commission is done by its administrative officials, experts, translators, interpreters and secretarial staff. There are approximately 23 000 of these European civil servants. That may sound a lot, but in fact it is fewer than the number of staff employed by a typical medium-sized city council in Europe. The ‘seat’ of the Commission is in Brussels (Belgium), but it also has offices in Luxembourg, representations in all EU countries and delegations in many capital cities around the world."

So the role of National Government in the appointment of Commissioners is essentially that it is consulted. In tune with its supra-national character the Commission is appointed by the President-designate.

I think a lot of people would disagree with your characterisation of the Commission as a weak body, myself being one of them. All EU legislation emanates from the Commission.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:47 pm

What I find so terribly distressing, sad, and not a wee bit frightening about discussions regarding the Eu and Lison the treaty in particular is the still complete denial by treaty supporters to address the fundamental issue that many people in Ireland and across Europe just don't want to be ruled by a superstate. They want government that is closer to the people. People want government that recognises the problems of people in a locality and can voice their concerns and hold politicians accountable to their election manifestos. Hell, Ireland is a fairly small country and yet its nearly wholesale centralised government structure has allowed political parties to pursue agendas contrary to or non-existend in their manifestos. On the one hand they claim great credit for any achievement based upon an electoral mandate and on the other hand disclaim any cupability due to the broad interpretation of non-specific plethora of policies they put before the people prior to election.

I'm all for making the EU institutions, as they exist, more democratic and accountable. But toying around with the edges of the Lisbon Treaty doesn't address the main concerns while making a wholesale mockery of the referendum procedure; one of the most profound democratic methods of people voicing their decisions on a particular policy.

Democracy isn't an exercise in expertism. Science, economics and engineering require experts. There is no panacea of governing experts who will suddenly come along and make up a perfect ruling body in Brussles or Dublin for that matter. While the pro-treaty parties decry the excess of "pork barrelism" they blithely ignore the ever increasing centralisation of power and the ability of the wealthy and mutli-nationals to call the legislative shots across many governing councils in the world. I suppose the idea is that as long as the well off and powerful do well the rest of us will muddle along somehow. However, every time we see a downturn in the economy it is the wage earner who has to bear the brunt of downturn while law makers do their damnest to protect those with accumulated wealth. It's well past time that we turn the model on its head and have the interests of industry and wealth creation serve the community which is involved in the wealth creation. A new US of E dosn't warm the cockles of my heart and as envisaged will do not better than the other power blocs. The EEC which grew out of the necessity to stop the intercine wars of Europe by promoting trade and economic growth, whether or not that was the underlying intention, had an ethical underpinning which commanded the repsect and admiration of most Europeans. If the EU is to continue this path it needs to act along the same lines and stop selling the super-message. It should lead by example instead of following the increasingly worn out global confrontation model that currently exists.

Democracy requires edcuation, open discussion and fundamental engagement of the population. It will not work, and imo is increasingly not working, when politicians and governors decide that they know best and obfusticate and rely on not so subtle propogandistic techniques to pursue policies at local, national or European-wide levels.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:14 pm

cactus flower wrote:
ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Democracy really is a messy business. The problem comes as you say with the perception that the officeholder will be able to give prefential treatment to one party or another - but wait - Commissioners can do just at the moment that without going to the trouble of getting elected.

They can, but are under no pressure to do so. Under an elective system, they will be able to, and they will be under public pressure to do so, particularly if they hope for re-election - and that's in addition to any existing pressure.

cactus flower wrote:
Thanks for that information - at present a number of people / a person is put forward by the Irish Government for consideration by the Commission, which appoints, isn't it so?

So the Irish government can identify that person in any way seen fit.

Actually, it's the Parliament that has refusal, but refusal is rare enough that only one name goes forward - essentially, the national governments appoint someone - but yes, the method of their appointment is entirely at the discretion of the national government.

cactus flower wrote:
I think the idea that Commissioners appointments could continue to be quiet behind the scene decisions without public interest or involvement will inevitably become untenable as people become more aware of the power and influence of the Commission to affect their lives.

Well, the influence and power of the Commission in legislative terms is not all that great - it has been in decline for the last two decades. They do propose legislation, but it needs to get past the Council, and increasingly the Parliament (more had Lisbon passed), both of whom can amend it or refuse it. After that, the job of the Commission becomes essentially the same as upper echelons of any civil service.

Just to clarify, this is from the Europa website:

"A new Commission is appointed every five years, within six months of the elections to the European Parliament. The procedure is as follows:

José Manuel Barroso heads the EU executive as President of the European Commission. The Member State governments agree together on who to designate as the new Commission President.
The Commission President-designate is then approved by Parliament.
The Commission President-designate, in discussion with the Member State governments, chooses the other Members of the Commission.
The Council adopts the list of nominees by qualified majority and communicates it to the European Parliament for approval.
Parliament then interviews each nominee and votes its opinion on the whole team.

Following Parliaments vote of approval, the new Commission is formally appointed by the Council, acting by qualified majority.
The present Commission’s term of office runs until 31 October 2009. Its President is José Manuel Barroso, from Portugal.

The Commission remains politically accountable to Parliament, which has the power to dismiss the whole Commission by adopting a motion of censure. Individual members of the Commission must resign if asked to do so by the President, provided the other commissioners approve.
The Commission attends all the sessions of Parliament, where it must clarify and justify its policies. It also replies regularly to written and oral questions posed by MEPs.

The day-to-day running of the Commission is done by its administrative officials, experts, translators, interpreters and secretarial staff. There are approximately 23 000 of these European civil servants. That may sound a lot, but in fact it is fewer than the number of staff employed by a typical medium-sized city council in Europe. The ‘seat’ of the Commission is in Brussels (Belgium), but it also has offices in Luxembourg, representations in all EU countries and delegations in many capital cities around the world."

So the role of National Government in the appointment of Commissioners is essentially that it is consulted. In tune with its supra-national character the Commission is appointed by the President-designate.

Well, 'consulted' is strictly accurate. We were 'consulted' about Charlie McCreevy, but as far as I know, that was the only name we put forward.

cactus flower wrote:
I think a lot of people would disagree with your characterisation of the Commission as a weak body, myself being one of them. All EU legislation emanates from the Commission.

Hmm. The primary law of the EU is the treaties, which do not emanate from the Commission, and ECJ rulings are also part of EU law. The Commission does have a formal monopoly on 'common market' legislative proposals, but in practice often proposes legislation on foot of requests from the Council or the Parliament - on the second and third 'pillars' (foreign and security policy and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters) the member states have an equal right of proposal. In the fields of fiscal and monetary policy the ECB also has the right of initiative. The Commission does not simply promulgate legislation, either, which is what the phrase "all EU legislation emanates from the Commission" would suggest to me.

I don't think I've characterised the Commission as a 'weak' body (I think you and I take each other's phrases up wrong more often than maybe any other two posters...) - just not as strong as it used to be, and definitely not, as many apparently think, the sole legislative body of the EU!
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:34 pm

rockyracoon wrote:
What I find so terribly distressing, sad, and not a wee bit frightening about discussions regarding the Eu and Lison the treaty in particular is the still complete denial by treaty supporters to address the fundamental issue that many people in Ireland and across Europe just don't want to be ruled by a superstate.

Essentially, that's because "ruled by a superstate" is a piece of complete rhetorical hyperbole - the EU isn't a superstate, doesn't "rule", and the majority of people in Europe appear to be quite comfortable with it, however many gripes they may have about the details. You're basically asking me to start from the position that you're right, and hold a discussion from there. That seems like an odd thing to ask, given I don't agree with your basic premise.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:04 pm

ibis wrote:
rockyracoon wrote:
What I find so terribly distressing, sad, and not a wee bit frightening about discussions regarding the Eu and Lison the treaty in particular is the still complete denial by treaty supporters to address the fundamental issue that many people in Ireland and across Europe just don't want to be ruled by a superstate.

Essentially, that's because "ruled by a superstate" is a piece of complete rhetorical hyperbole - the EU isn't a superstate, doesn't "rule", and the majority of people in Europe appear to be quite comfortable with it, however many gripes they may have about the details. You're basically asking me to start from the position that you're right, and hold a discussion from there. That seems like an odd thing to ask, given I don't agree with your basic premise.

I'm not asking you or anyone else to start from any position. I'm putting forward my opinions. That's what the forum is about. If you choose to denegrate others opinions because you do not agree with the said opinions, so be it. It seems when others don't play be the pre-defined set of rules as designated by pro-treaty proponents that there is a descent into using terms like hyperbole, stupidity and often much worse.

Well the entire Treaty was rejected and so the entire treaty in and of itself should be open to debate. The premise is being put about that the debate on the Lisbon Treaty must be within the framework of the Treaty itself. We only need to tweek a few bits and bobs here and there and the project will become acceptable.

Instead, I'm saying the treaty can to be viewed in the context of where Europe wishes to go and should also be analysed in a complete context and not just on a given clause here or there.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:34 pm

rockyracoon wrote:
ibis wrote:
rockyracoon wrote:
What I find so terribly distressing, sad, and not a wee bit frightening about discussions regarding the Eu and Lison the treaty in particular is the still complete denial by treaty supporters to address the fundamental issue that many people in Ireland and across Europe just don't want to be ruled by a superstate.

Essentially, that's because "ruled by a superstate" is a piece of complete rhetorical hyperbole - the EU isn't a superstate, doesn't "rule", and the majority of people in Europe appear to be quite comfortable with it, however many gripes they may have about the details. You're basically asking me to start from the position that you're right, and hold a discussion from there. That seems like an odd thing to ask, given I don't agree with your basic premise.

I'm not asking you or anyone else to start from any position. I'm putting forward my opinions. That's what the forum is about. If you choose to denegrate others opinions because you do not agree with the said opinions, so be it. It seems when others don't play be the pre-defined set of rules as designated by pro-treaty proponents that there is a descent into using terms like hyperbole, stupidity and often much worse.

Crikey - all I said was that I disagreed with the opinion., and that I rejected the phrase "ruled by a superstate"! I'm pointing out that I can't discuss whether people want to be "ruled by a superstate" in the context of the EU because I don't agree that the EU either rules or is a superstate. That, in turn, makes it impossible for me to debate whether that's what people want or not in the context of the EU - you'd need to start a lot further back and lay out what 'ruled', and 'superstate' mean - otherwise they are, as I said, hyperbole.

rockyracoon wrote:
Well the entire Treaty was rejected and so the entire treaty in and of itself should be open to debate. The premise is being put about that the debate on the Lisbon Treaty must be within the framework of the Treaty itself. We only need to tweek a few bits and bobs here and there and the project will become acceptable.

Instead, I'm saying the treaty can to be viewed in the context of where Europe wishes to go and should also be analysed in a complete context and not just on a given clause here or there.

Sure. It's a pity we only seem to have such debates when there are treaties up for grabs, though.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Mon Sep 15, 2008 11:57 pm

Ibis
Quote :
Sure. It's a pity we only seem to have such debates when there are treaties up for grabs, though.

Its been going along steadily now for nine months at least, and I don't think its going to stop.
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PostSubject: Re: Mary Harney for EU Commission - No Thank You Very Much   Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:03 am

cactus flower wrote:
Ibis
Quote :
Sure. It's a pity we only seem to have such debates when there are treaties up for grabs, though.

Its been going along steadily now for nine months at least, and I don't think its going to stop.

Six months of which was actual campaign - and Europe would have dropped well off the horizon by now if the Treaty had been passed, which is the one reason I'm glad it wasn't.
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