This article was originally published on The Conservative Online
The structural defects of the European Commission are plentiful: an insurmountable democratic deficit; not a hint of accountability; and an opaque process of legislative formulation to name but a few. However, many Remoaners dogmatically refuse to view the European Union as anything other than a haven of progress. They contend that because EU Commissioners are nominated by Member State executives, this somehow invalidates complaints about democratic illegitimacy.
In fact, the opposite is true. A perverse outcome of this set-up is that the Commission becomes a cesspool of failed, sometimes obscure, domestic politicians and opportunistic bureaucrats. They are driven by a sense of stubborn personal ambition, above any notion of national representation, having been rejected by their own country’s political system.
Take Labour politician and now Lord (Peter) Mandelson, for example. Having held several ministerial positions previously, he was overlooked for a place in the UK Cabinet by fellow Europhile, Tony Blair in 2004. This followed several prior ‘forced resignations’ and prompted Mandelson to consider a change of career direction. He decreed he wished to pursue a career as Britain’s European Commissioner. Not only did this allow him to continue exerting significant amounts of power – more than he had whilst a member of the British Government – but he also enjoyed all the perks which come with such a role – such as a huge expense account and an exorbitant pension! To be appointed to this role, however, Mandelson was bound by an oath of office to ‘represent the interests of the EU at all times’, rather than the United Kingdom’s! Clearly, this means the title of ‘British Commissioner’ is now redundant as a British Commissioner’s loyalty clearly no longer lies with representing Britain – as the title would seem to indicate – while we are a Member of the European Union – but now lies with the EU as a whole!
The present EU Commission provides a stark illustration of just how ingrained this conveyor belt of failure is. We only need look at the crooked, dark past of Jean-Claude Juncker, to see this as fact. Having clung on as Prime Minister in the tiny principality of Luxembourg for 18 years, he was finally thrown out of office in 2013 after becoming embroiled in an illegal spy scandal, with allegations of corruption and phone tapping. Despite this, just a year later he was handed the top job in European politics – EU Commission President – with a swathe of accompanying powers, financial rewards (let alone the access he has to the EU’s vast wine cellar!), as well as diplomatic influence over 28 Member States.
Juncker’s calls for greater European integration, his ambitions as the Single European President along with increased defence co-operation, are setting the direction of travel for the whole Continent. All this is the manoeuvring by an individual of highly questionable character. He was deemed unpalatable by the Luxembourgian public who had the democratic tools to remove him. Europeans – who are now stuck with him – have no such recourse as he manipulates himself into more and more positions of elevated grandure.
The Commission does not just have a second-rate politician as its President. A worryingly large proportion of other Commission positions are occupied by men and women whose careers are characterised by nothing but failure.
Two of the current Vice-Presidents – Andrus Ansip and Valdis Dombrovskis – once governed in their home nations of Estonia and Latvia. However, both were forced to resign because of radically deteriorating poll ratings, with Dombrovskis’ departure a result of his administration’s culpability for the collapse of a shopping centre, causing several fatalities.
For any organisation with a semblance of democratic principle, the very fact these two Eurocrats were rejected by voters in their own countries, should disbar them from ever holding any significant position of power again. The EU has no such qualms. The EU duly handed the EU President, Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as them, huge legislative capabilities which go above and beyond those they wielded previously. They all have considerable sway over the laws and rules of the EU, the Single Market as well as shaping the framework of regulations to which over 500 million people are forced to adhere.
The list of politicians deemed substandard by European populations, but who now sit in top Brussels jobs, does not end there. The Belgian Commissioner, Mariannae Thyson, led the CD&V party for just two years, and in that time guided it from first in the polls to fourth. Phil Hogan left the Irish Cabinet- amidst a ferocious backlash from the public over his changes to water charges – and guess what? Hogan is now the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. You couldn’t make it up if you tried!
For politicians in the smaller European States, a role in the Commission represents the pinnacle of their career. It provides them with a platform to extend their influence and ideology far wider than would have been possible if they had remained in their national Parliament. For this reason, we often see leaders of these states appoint themselves to Commission roles – regardless of popular opinion or opposition.
For instance, Jyrki Katainen, resigned as Prime Minister of Finland with the sole objective of pursuing a job in the Commission. His departure from Finland came at a time of increasing political instability between the six governing collation parties, and the prospect of him being voted out in the following year’s election was looming. Guess what? He now has the ‘Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness’ portfolio!
Meanwhile, Christos Stylianides quit the Cypriot Government during the midst of the financial crisis to become ‘Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid’.
The nomination of both these individuals was akin to a coronation, with no one else in the country having had a say in the matter. This just goes to show how disgraceful it is to abuse the process of appointing Commissioners by those politicians who seek to prolong or enhance their career.
The nations of Europe deserve better than this. For any country to reject a politician, only to have them resume their political career via the backdoor – garnering considerable powers in the process – is not Democracy. It is the complete antithesis of what Democracy means!
Once we Get Britain Out of the EU, we will be able to end the authority this motley crew of crooked and failed politicians have over our law-making system, and we can hand control back to our own elected representatives.