We now have a document called “Political guidelines for the next Commission” by Jose Manuel Barroso. It is basically a political program for the next mandate of the Commission, provided that Mr. Barroso is elected President.
This is an obvious precedent. The current composition of the European Parliament has necessitated this development. So for the first time we have a preliminary political agenda for the next European Commission that attempts to convince political groups in the European Parliament.
The document is more ambitious, however. It provides “a vision for EU 2020”. The main priorities for 2020 are:
- Making a successful exit from the crisis
- Leading on climate change
- Boosting the new sources of growth and social cohesion
- Advancing people’s Europe
- Opening a new Era for Global Europe.
There are many critical voices towards the content of the document (see here, here and here). From my perspective the important question is whether Mr. Barroso should have provided such a document in the first place – Ole Ryborg claims that he souldn’t, and so does the Swedish EU Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmström. They both think that involving the European Parliament in the drafting of the Work Program, of the Commission is a breach of the independence of the institutions of the European Union. On the other hand the Commission does indeed depend politically on the European Parliament (see the motion of censure procedure).
I personally am quite upset by the lack of discussion over the possible entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. This is wrong.
In any case it may be arguable that the European Parliament should not meddle with the political program of the Commission President. At the same time the European Parliament is not obliged to approve a nomination (albeit unanimous) for Commission President. It is a right of the Parliament to approve or reject a candidature, and no rule of procedure compels it to rubber stamp the Council nomination.
For me this is an issue of principle, and any attempts to predetermine that vote are worrying.