Irish Flag - CC / Flickr
Irish Flag - CC / Flickr

The European Parliament has had to make one formal adjustment for June’s elections – as opposed to the 750 MEPs foreseen in the Treaty of Lisbon (rejected by the Irish), 732 MEPs will instead be elected. A few countries get a few less MEPs.

Easy. Well, perhaps not…

The first task of the new EP is to sort out its own structures – President, Vice Presidents, Committees, Committee chairs etc. Even with Graham Watson trying to break the status quo this should be smooth enough.

Then it gets complex. Normally the period July-September would be used by the EP to approve the Council’s nominee for Commission President, and to hold the hearings for the approval of the Commission team. The problems this time are two-fold, entirely as a result of Ireland and the Treaty of Lisbon.

Firstly the Treaty of Nice (currently in force) states that there shall be ‘less’ Commissioners than there are Member States, but it does not say how big the Commission team shall be. The Treaty of Lisbon, with the caveat granted to keep the Irish happy, will ensure each country still gets a Commissioner, presumably with one of the twenty-seven being the new High Rep / EU Foreign Policy person. So should everyone calculate according to the Nice rules, or the Lisbon rules? If everyone is banking on the latter then all hearings for the new Commissioners are going to have to take place late in September, after the second Irish referendum.

Secondly, what about the Commission President? It looks more of an odds-on certainty that vacuous incumbent Barroso will be re-nominated, and the EPP are pushing for that to all be done and dusted in June or July. How will that play in Ireland, the same head of the executive there once more?

Perhaps more importantly, what is the European Parliament going to spend the summer doing? Plotting and speculating would be my best guess. For the longer the EP broods, waiting to get its teeth stuck into some legislation while the Commission’s future is on ice due to the Irish, the more scheming MEPs are going to be digging around in the CVs of possible Commissioner nominees to see if they can dredge up something akin to the Buttiglione affair of 2004.

While everyone has their eye on the EP elections now, and the Irish referendum in the autumn, the period in between could be very rocky indeed, with a new European Parliament that’s going to be searching for something to do.


  1. Fergus O'Rourke

    “[E]ntirely as a result of Ireland and the Treaty of Lisbon” eh ? You are totally confident, then, that the German constiutional challenge will fail ?

    As for Barroso, I agree with the estimable Keith (a colleague in the eventually successful campaign against the insecure e-voting system planned for Ireland) that Barroso is not the focus of any popular discontent here. I personally see no reason why he should be; there’s nothing out-of-the-ordinary in his conduct. You’re too hard on him, I think, perhaps because you do not appreciate the impossible cul-de-sac in which “the project” finds itself. Barroso had a minor role in putting it there.

  2. Don’t you think hammering on at Barroso could be a handy line for Libertas et al?

    As for the date: I can understand from the Irish point of view, but people are going to be baying for blood in Brussels by the end of October as the institutions are basically going to have done nothing for 6 months.

    It’s not going to be a fun summer I fear.

  3. >How will that play in Ireland, the same head of the executive there once more?

    Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone will notice. It certainly won’t impact on the referendum result.
    Referendum is currently pencilled in for the end of October, btw, so it would be November before the Commission hearings would start.

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