Insatiable French appetite for major EU commission portfolios

Posted by Eberhard Rhein on 14/03/14

The two front-runners for EU Commission President plead for a leaner Commission focusing on more political missions and less on technical paraphernalia.

To that end, the number of Commissioners should have been reduced from 2014 onwards to only 21 (two thirds of the number of member states), in conformity with Article 17 of the Lisbon Treaty. But the European Council has so far never seriously thought about implementing this constitutional rule.

Thus the Commission will continue to suffer from too many Commissioners and portfolios.

In this situation, the recent suggestion by the French Economics and Finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, to give France a super- portfolio encompassing Economics, Energy, Industry, Foreign Trade and Competition sounds more than dazzling. Mr Moscovici would not disdain being in charge of such a giant portfolio, which would account for roughly a quarter of the Commission’s responsibilities.

Unfortunately, Mr Moscovici has not indicated how the other portfolios would be shared among his 26 colleagues.

His presentation illustrates how many French politicians continue to believe in French “grandeur” without caring about other member states, whether big or small.

This is first time in 56 years since the formation of the Commission that a national minister has the chutzpah to “pick” for himself five portfolios more than half a year before the Commission President, who is finally responsible for the distribution of portfolios, has been formally installed.

Any national politician with the ambition to serve on the Commission should show more restraint and respect for his future colleagues. His super-appetite disqualifies Mr Moscovici to become a Commissioner.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 13/3/2014

 

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