In the run into the European Election there seems to be a wave of good news across most member states and it will be interesting to see how this impacts on the electoral returns. Holding the Presidency must be good for the economy as we note that many of the statements issued by the Greek Government, currently holders of the EU Presidency, could be almost direct lifts from our own Government Press Office when we held the Presidency. The Greeks had a scandal in their Finance Department which saw the departure of a senior official after he was found to have provided information to the far right. This will not stop them as they prepare to re-enter the money markets. Their Finance Minister says that this is the right time but that the return will be “trial and error”. The French Government have also had trouble with the far right, whose electoral success has resulted in a change of PM.
There are calls for the numbers of EU Commissioners to be reduced. Each country is entitled to nominate a person to the Commission. As the EU expands so too does the size of the Commission. The argument for change is that there just is not enough portfolios to go around. Some propose that it may be possible to appoint from the nominees a smaller “inner cabinet” with the remaining commissioners, while full members would in effect be assistants. Such change is feared as there is a belief that by having a national representative sitting at the table protects the national interest. Of course, each commissioner is obliged to discharge their duties as Commissioners of the Union and not as nominees of their state.
Currently six EU Commissioners have taken electoral leave. Mr Barroso has now a smaller commission of just 22 as portfolios are reassigned. So for a short time those who seek a reduction in Commissioner numbers prevail, at least till after the election.