Letter: The right way to choose a new commission president

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Sir: There should, as you pointed out in your leading article on Friday (24 June), be a better way to choose a European Commission president than what has been going on in Corfu, but at least the postponement of the decision on who should succeed Jacques Delors gives the EU heads of government some time to reconsider their procedures.

At Maastricht it was agreed that:

The governments of the Member States shall nominate by common accord, after consulting the European Parliament, the person they intend to appoint as President of the Commission. (Treaty of Rome, revised Article 158: my italics).

Maastricht further emphasised the link between Parliament and the Commission by bringing the period of office of the two institutions in line with each other.

Ideally, the Parliament should have the power of assent or veto over the initial appointment of the Commission President as it now does over the Commission as a whole, but that would require another treaty change.

Until that happens, it is important that the heads of government should respect the right of consultation, and at a stage at which the Parliament can exercise some genuine influence on the final choice.

The first meeting of the newly elected European Parliament is scheduled for the week beginning 18 July and, although intended for routine internal business, this does offer an opportunity to start the process of consultation before the heads of government reach their decision. Is it too much to ask that the governments which negotiated the Maastricht treaty should at least honour the spirit as well as the letter of its provisions and thus introduce a much-

needed element of democracy into the manner in which the appointment is made?

Yours sincerely,


Chairman, International

Relations Committee

European Movement

London, SW1

25 June