Why parties should nominate candidates for president of the Commission

José Manuel Barroso (picture European Commission)

By Richard Laming

An enquiry comes in: why should political parties nominate candidates for president of the European Commission in the elections next summer

Here are three reasons:

1. Honesty

MEPs have the right to approve the nomination of a candidate proposed by the European Council. This is one of the most important powers they have. Candidates should tell voters before the election how they intend to use that power if elected.

2. Influence

There are some major decisions facing the European Union, and the president of the Commission will have a considerable influence when those decisions are taken. A political party that does not put up a candidate is effectively saying that it does not want to maximise the influence that it might have over those decisions. Which party should contest elections without the aim of winning? They are entitled to nominate candidates, and in the interest of gaining more influence themselves, they should do so.

3. Democracy

The president of the European Commission is an important political figure. We believe that political positions should be acquired by winning elections rather than being nominated in closed, secretive discussions. Many people are concerned that the voters are becoming disengaged from the European Union: such disengagement will only be increased if important political posts are filled without consulting the voters first. The way to consult voters is for the parties to nominate candidates for president.

This article was written by Richard Laming, who may be contacted at richard@richardlaming.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union. 8 December 2008.

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