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Schuman Project

David Heilbron PRICE


20 March 2008

    President Jose Manuel Barroso

    European Commission

Dear President Barroso,

For more than half a century, the European Commission has played a central and impartial role in the unification of Europe. This impartiality assured for business, workers and consumers that cartels should not abuse the market place. Impartiality was originally guaranteed in the EUís founding treatyís Article 9. It forbad Commissioners to take another job, paid or otherwise, in the three years after leaving the Commission.

Last week, discussions in the European Parliament in relation to the Lisbon Treaty draft revealed a serious flaw with a risk of corruption on a vast scale. According to the Treaty, the European Commission will lose its most valuable quality it has had since its inception. That is its impartiality.

Firstly, the proposed Treaty insists on choosing the new Commission on a party political vote in Parliament. This excludes the original, founding concept that Commissioners should be non-partisan. Former politicians were a minority in early colleges. Now some 98 per cent of Europeans are to be disenfranchised from becoming Commission President and members, simply because they wish to remain impartial and non-political. The proposed system would disqualify Jean Monnet, the first president of the Commission/High Authority and many others! How will non-political Europeans in other professions: lawyers, academics, trades unionists, businessmen or philosophers, react when the institutions eventually explain their newly imposed exclusion to them?

The only rationale for this amendment that I have seen is that party politics are failing to attract a good turnout at elections, as politicians are losing the respect of the public. It will supposedly add controversy, and therefore interest. However, politicians are often perceived as being dishonest. Will it help? Will such political Ďreformersí soon require all officials, even Court judges, to be chosen by party membership cards to boost voting stats?  The Commission was conceived to be an honest broker and arbiter. Making the Commission a political reflection of the partisan majority in Parliament is equivalent to insisting a football referee be a paid-up member of a football club. It is extremely shortsighted to mix up an impartial, supranational democratic Commission with national parliamentary systems.

Secondly, it was made clear in the European Parliament last week that the Parliament will no longer be able to dismiss the Commission for serious misconduct or corruption. This endangers not only anti-cartel action but European democracy itself.

Thirdly, this political distortion of the Commission, as unsackable and restricted to the nominees of political party machines, creates an open invitation to powerful cartels, multinationals and international sovereign funds countries to corrupt the party machines themselves. The unwise reform amendments could subjugate Europe to a non-democratic, external oligarchy.

I am herewith enclosing a copy of my letter to the President of the European Parliament, which explains this danger.

I would be grateful if I could receive answers to the following questions:

  1. Exclusions. What is the official Commission opinion about the loss of its political independence and impartiality? In the past the unanimity of Council on a candidate ensured some degree of impartiality. Why should non-party, eminent Europeans be excluded from consideration? The public will see this as injustice foisted on them by a political cabal.
  2. Cartels. What is the Commissionís reaction to the loss of its independent anti-cartel powers? How will it explain this to Europeís consumers?
  3. Corruption. What is the Commissionís reaction to the increased danger of corruption and major subversion of the democratic institutions of the EU? Has the Commission analysed these new dangers of illegal penetration by cartels, multinationals and states with massive sovereign funds available to influence EU internal and external affairs?

As a former Commission official, I look to the Commission as guardian of the treaties to defend its fundamental role of impartiality in the Community system and defend the interests of all Europeans.

Yours sincerely,

  David H Price

Annex: Letter to Mr Poettering, EPIntelligent Treaty Guide

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