Schuman Project  



The European Commission  # 3

The Disgraceful Record of Member States against the Commission

Directed by David H Price.
Further information Tel/Fax: +322 230 7621. email:            ©Bron 1999- 2007 

News and Research on Europe highlighting Robert Schuman's political, economic, philosophical contribution from the independent SCHUMAN PROJECT













Europe's founding Treaty is NOT the Treaty of Rome!                    

And Remember, there were TWO treaties of Rome



Five democratic European institutions



Is Europe a Federation or a Confederation?
.Europe's first Treaty that created a  European democratic framework






Learn about Robert Schuman's life and work





































































































Go back to Welcome page

A major break with Europe’s founding fathers

The Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty have one thing in common: both want to make the most destructive inroads to the independence of the Commission as a whole, and of the independence of the members in particular. This is a disgraceful betrayal of European democracy and the principles of Community.

All the previous treaties say that the Commission must be composed of ‘independent and experienced’ persons.  They are NOT national representatives. That Commissioners became national politicians was an insistence of nationalists, like the Gaullists. The treaties do not say Commissioners have to be party political members as a condition. It does not say only political parties may chose the name of commissioners. The latest treaties want to discriminate against normal people, that is, the vast majority of citizens who do not have party membership. 

Whoever the Commissioners were or are now, they have a duty. The Commission is guardian of the treaties. Did the present Commissioners and all other politicians explain to parliaments and to voters in the referendums these facts? Did they show them where in the treaties and why the Commissioners are required NOT to be representatives of their State? Did governments and the present Commissioners explain that being an active politician is against the principles of the treaties? Please submit quotes to ! Did they explain the following?

The main purpose of the Commission is to act as an honest-broker for all European states, associations and individuals.  It is like the person who cuts up a cake, as equally as possible, before the greedy children (governments) choose the portions. Obviously this rôle should not be given to one of the governments, and certainly not one of the big states, known as the bullies of history. 

Obviously, having a Commission composed only of national politicians is not likely be a good as having decisions made by a college of really fair-minded persons. A bunch of politicians will bring the decisions to the lowest common denominator after national arm-wrestling inside the Commission. It is mini-power politics and will be scarcely better than the squabbles that take place outside in the Council of Ministers. 

The abuse of placing national Yesmen inside the Commission was the reason that, during the Gaullist period in France, voting had to be introduced inside the Commission. Previously consensus was sought. De Gaulle hoped that a strong politician of Gaullist persuasion could bamboozle all the others (Germany was politically dependent and the others were weaker like Italy, or smaller and therefore insignificant.) Voting was necessary because as some Commissioners became ideologically biased and were given instructions from their capitals. Stacking the Commission with national ideologues was blatant violation of the letter and spirit of the treaties.

It was in this period that de Gaulle showed what type of Europe he wanted. He vetoed the candidature of  Great Britain and with it Ireland, Norway and Denmark, not once but twice. Did he discuss this policy in the French Parliament before he did it? Not at all. De Gaulle just said NO. There was not even a referendum in France to see if the French people wanted these European neighbours to join. Of course not. In fact the Council had already agreed on Ireland's adhesion. That did not matter at all.

What is even more astounding was that de Gaulle did not even tell his ministers he was going to make what was one of France's most important policy decisions! How did he go about this act of saying NO? Well he just said so in a press conference! For the second veto he at least advanced this to a speech.

Was de Gaulle against the expansion of the European Communities? Apparently not. In spite of his personal Diktat against the most democratic states in Europe, de Gaulle's government made it clear in May 1964 that he would like to see Spain, then under Franco's dictatorship, inside the Community.   

Europe should be grateful that the Community system, created by Schuman was resilient enough that this abuse of democracy did not happen. Europe is not a club for dictators. Good democrats like Joseph Luns in The Netherlands and many others in the small countries of Belgium and Luxembourg made it clear that this was not the Europe they expected. They resisted de Gaulle's Fouchet Plan in 1961 which had as its main aim to sideline the Commission and turn it into a secretariat obedient to his personal 'centralizing' wishes. Paul-Henri Spaak declared that 'Europe of tomorrow must be a supranational Europe.

When in 1962 de Gaulle said he was against this supranational form of democracy, the European ministers in his government resigned. In 1965 he refused to send a minister to the Council of Ministers, until, after a few months, this empty chair policy began to look ridiculous. The other five showed that democratic solidarity was what Europeans expected. They refused all separate bilateral talks with France. However none of the five other governments insisted that they should have direct elections to the European Parliament as required by the treaties, even if France wouldn't. Mrs Thatcher, prime minister of the UK, also tried to boycott the European institutions, but it took her less time to realize she was looking ridiculous. The European Community is not about the blackmail of the big powers but reaching agreement on common democratic rules. 

These undemocratic acts were committed by governments who vaunted themselves for being democratic. Some personalities wanted to be considered the saviour of the Continent against such imaginary foes such as ‘Anglo-Saxons’. Curious term. This extremely dubious propaganda was a historical anachronism and related to a Celtic people who had been invaded by Romans two thousand years earlier then by Norwegian, Dutch and Danish Vikings and then about a thousand years ago conquered by French Normans! Even after Europe’s sad experience of Hitler’s propaganda machine, thousands of uncritical people took such obvious information distortions seriously in the 1960s. Thanks to the courage of other Members, the Commission did not irrevocably become the mouthpiece of Gaullist policies.

When this wave of dishonest nationalism faded out both in France and also in the dictatorships of Spain, Portugal and Greece, the European public began to take a more realistic view of the facts. They were allowed to, because the means of communication, radio and television and newspapers, were no longer the monopoly of the State machine. Propaganda came to be considered as ridiculous against neighbouring States as gossiping against neighbours across the fence. We all have to live together despite the distortions of tin-pot politicians.  

But let's not forget that new treaties are too often written by politicians alone. That is extremely dangerous as the first interest they look out for is their own. One other thing that has been conveniently 'forgotten' by the latest breed of Commissioners, relates to new treaties. Is it ethical, professional or right that Commissioners should be recommending and lobbying the citizens in favour of new treaties? 

Let's be clear. A new treaty is the business of governments and their citizens. It needs to be discussed and agreed by all interest groups, not just a house of party politicians, that is, parliament. 

In the past, the Commissioners avoided commenting on new treaties. Frankly it's not the Commission's business until it has been passed democratically. Then the Commission becomes a guardian of the treaty and can defend it in line with natural justice and European values. Incidentally, the Commission's job is to defend the previous treaties and common justice. It is not there to praise fellow-politicians and to lobby for them. It should criticize governments and politics that try to bring in measures contrary to the original democratic principles and natural justice. This the present Commission has signally failed to do. 

Nationalism (or rather national representation) is clearly represented in the Council of Ministers. Isn’t nationalism written into the European system? Why should it not be represented in the Commission?

Proof that the Commission was designed to be impartial

How can we be sure that the founding fathers thought of the Commission should not represent the states themselves? Firstly, the method was acclaimed as a great democratic innovation and agreed by all founder States. It was a great improvement on power politics that Europe had known for centuries. Obviously writing power-politics system inside the Commission would be illogical as it would end in a superstate. It hardly be worthy of their praise.

Secondly it is clear from the treaties. The treaties of Rome comprise one on nuclear non-proliferation, Euratom and the other on a Customs Union, the Economic Community, (called by some the Common Market).  In the former there are only FIVE Commissioners, while there were six Member States. The treaty was designed so that the governments would have to choose Commissioners for their fairness and experience, not for their nationality. The governments had to name these Commissioners by common accord. Hence if it was not fair, any State or States that did not have a national as a Commissioner, finding the choice biased, could refuse the choice of one or more up to five candidates.

The other treaty of Rome dealing with the Economic Community had similar philosophy. There were nine Commissioners and six States. Did this mean that the big States (France, Germany and Italy) would have two Commissioners, and the Benelux countries would have one each? Not at all. That is nowhere said in the treaty. The idea is largely an invention of Gaullist times. For an arrogant nation it was inconceivable that France should have at least two Commissioners. That was not the intention of the treaty-writers. All the treaty says is that the Commission may not have more than two members of the same nationality. That applies to Luxembourg as much as Germany or France. The members are chosen ‘for their general competence who can offer every guarantee of independence.’ Article 157. Contrary to what nationalist believe, talent and competence can be found in other nations too. Are smaller countries able to treat other nations and their economies as equals? Quite often.

It is illogical to argue that Europe must be divided among Big Boys with two Commissioners (and by implication with two votes, (assuming voting was necessary) and small countries with one Commissioner. How then can one specify one representative is good enough for The Netherlands with fifteen million population and one representative should go to Luxembourg with less than half a million? Nowhere does the treaty explain that the Commissioners should be chosen by the population size of a country or by GDP or anything else. Remember that there is one treaty for coal and steel, should this use production as a criterion? For the Common Market not all goods and services are included. For example energy and transport were not included because the founding fathers anticipated at Messina that other Communities would be created specifically just for these sectors.

This type of arguing on power and not justice has led the most recent treaty planners to get into the most complex and Byzantine weighted voting systems, theoretical and unworkable in practice.

The treaties give the possibility to governments — which are assumed to be honest or to become more honest with the organic development of an open European process — to chose Commission Members on the basis mature democracy. That is, if necessary they were free to chose two eminently qualified Luxembourgers (because the two candidates are the best choice for Europe) and only one for France.  Did they ever do this? Not on your life! No wonder the Gaullists shook with fear and trembling that honesty and justice would spread elsewhere! Give up 'their' seat to foreigners! Unthinkable!

Thirdly, the treaties make it clear that impartiality is the main criterion for membership. The founding Treaty of Paris, 1951, establishing the Community system and the single market for coal and steel, affirms the same thing because one of the members was co-opted. The High Authority as the first Commission was known, was given eight Commissioners who had to be chosen unanimously by the Six States. A ninth member was chosen by the eight as a co-opted member according to Article 10 of the Treaty. How could Member States share out eight seats between them including tiny Luxembourg (with a big steel industry) and giant Germany with ample supplies of coal? This very question shows that the people chosen to fill the seats were chosen because of their independence, honesty and experience. Schuman considered ways to have more co-opted members because if the existing Commissioners were fairly independent, then the co-opted members may well be more so. The sad story is that governments can rarely be trusted to be impartial, whether about their own citizens, and even less about 'foreigners'.

Fourthly, the treaties say that the smallest number of Commissioners is preferable. This is further borne out by another line in the Paris treaty’s Paragraph 9 ‘The numbers of members of the High Authority may be reduced by unanimous decision of the Council.  Note it does not say the numbers could be expanded to pay salaries to more worn-out politicians, but reduced. Thus the founding fathers wished to emphasize once again that the number of members had nothing to do with nationality. The reduction could be made once the Community was working well and only a few wise and independent people were needed. It could only take place when democracies trusted each other. 

Did the governments reduce the number of members? Not once during the fifty years of Europe’s first Community! That is further proof of the prolonged political infancy of Europe’s democratic leaders! They behaved like squabbling children for half a century. What a disgraceful record !


What is the Commission for?

is it to represent political parties or government systems?

a way to ease out unwanted political colleagues?

to provide a healthy pension at the end of a career?

to act as a representative for industrial lobbies?

to protect the workers by close ties to unions?

to introduce reform that is in a party political programme but can't be introduced in the national parliament?

to make contacts with European industry so that a politician can get an even fatter job by resigning early?

to provide a speaker with European credentials to rally votes at national elections?

to provide a training ground for a future lobbyist and wheeler-dealer?

to manipulate European money that cannot be got at a national level for the party?

to make sure that money goes to a local favoured region?

to create 'research' and work projects for  special interests?

to build the army of contractors to eliminate an independent civil service?

to stop other nations complaining about the member's State?

to block anti-corruption investigations at a European level?

to make sure that favoured cartels and interests are not investigated?

to provide other jobs for the party 'boys and girls' by 'parachuting' them in as advisers and contractors?

to be the long-arm of the government back home?

to work with party buddies in the European Parliament to execute plans cooked up in secret?




The Commission is there to:   a) propose European legislation of common interest    b) execute democratically agreed policy;   c) act as guardian of the Treaties.