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EU Commission fears power loss in the Eurozone crisis

As you may remember, the last European Council meeting on 8 & 9 December 2011 ended with the conclusion that no unanimity for a Treaty change was achieved. Thus, an intergovernmental treaty was needed to move ahead to continue the anti-crisis measures.

Reading through the Commission meeting protocol of the session following this European Council (on 13 December 2011), one can clearly see that the Commission had a lengthy discussion on the outcomes of this European Council meeting. The protocol summarises these discussions on 10 pages, which is pretty long compared to the usual length of agenda items in the Commission meeting protocols.

What becomes obvious through these discussions is that the Commission fears an intergovernmentalisation of the EU through the Eurozone crisis measures and a loss of power of the Commission:

doubts regarding the Commission’s future position in the institutionalset-up that would emerge from the intergovernmental agreement; the risk that the Commission might see its role reduced to that of merely implementing decisions on economic governance taken at intergovernmental level; in this context, questions in particular about the Commission’s powers to adopt sanctions if a Member State were to infringe the rules of the new fiscal compact;” (19-20)

However, and I find the end of this statement pretty interesting, the protocol also notes that Commission president Barroso

admitted that the Commission would have preferred a different outcome in terms of the form, one that was more in line with the conclusions it had reached at its two previous meetings on 30 November and 7 December. He considered that, while prudence was still advisable, the risks involved for the Union, the Community method and the Commission were manageable.” (14, own highlight)

What this formulation reveals is that all this is, beyond the need to solve the Eurocrisis, clearly also a power struggle in which the Commission is trying to manage the risk of losing power, power to control the process, that is in particular the power to control member states’ actions with regard to fiscal and monetary policies.

It’s definitely worth re-reading the whole agenda item in the minutes starting from page 14. This may be one of the (many) defining discussions in the political process behind the Eurocrisis, and probably something to be re-read again in 5 years time, no matter how things have evolved until then.



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