February 12, 2009
The Irish rejection of the Lisbon Treaty is causing headaches and disagreement between institutions. These centre on the appointment of the Commission president and the composition of the college and the number of MEPs.
- The new Commission should take office on 1 November. The European Parliament (EP) elections are between 4 and 7 June. The next European Council (EC) meeting is on 18-19 June. A second Irish referendum is expected in October.
The existing treaty (Nice) requires:
· The Commission president to be appointed by the EC by qualified majority. The nomination has to be approved by the EP.
· The Commission to be less than the number of Member States (currently 27). The Council decides upon the number, acting unanimously.
· The EP to have 736 members.
The Treaty of Lisbon requires:
· The EC, acting by majority voting, to propose to the EP the Commission president, taking into account the EP elections and after carrying out the appropriate consultation. The candidate has to be approved by an absolute majority of MEPs. If rejected, the EC must propose an alternative candidate.
· The Commission to include one member per Member State. From 2014 the number of Commissioners to be two-thirds of the number of Member States. The EC, acting by unanimity, can alter this number.
· The EP to have a maximum of 750 members, plus its president.
Since 1 January 2007 (when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU), there have been 785 MEPs.
The questions to be answered are which treaty applies to:
· the appointment of the next Commission president?
· the appointment of the Commissioners?
· the number of MEPs?
The Czech Presidency aims to agree at the June summit on naming the next president under the Nice Treaty. MEPs wish to be involved as if the Lisbon Treaty were in force.
The Presidency wants to take into account the results of the European elections (as per the Lisbon Treaty). But this means that it has to be done within 10 days (between elections and the summit), but Parliament will not have been set up by then. It is said that the only way to resolve this is to delay the nomination of the president.
If the nominations take place under the Nice Treaty, not every Member State can have a Commissioner, but Ireland had been promised that there will continue to be a Commissioner for each Member State. It is being suggested that the present Commission’s mandate be extended for one or two months and then the appointments can be made under the Lisbon Treaty, if there is a positive outcome of the second Irish referendum.
One solution might be to nominate 26 Commissioners under the Nice Treaty – excluding Ireland – and if the Lisbon Treaty comes into effect, nominate an Irish Commissioner.
Number of MEPs
736 MEPS will be elected under the Nice Treaty.
There is no easy solution to any of the issues which is legal and does not prevent the Commission from conducting necessary business.
There is no guarantee that the German Constitutional Court will not create ratification difficulties.
Author : Stanley Crossick