Commission Reform Discussion
Dear Premier Comissioner and Dearest Colleagues:
In first place I want to start my speech by apologizing for not being present before, as I have some private dificulties. In second Place, I want to express my agreement with this piece of Legislation presented by the Hon. Premier Comissioner Anja Emerett. But, I have to point out just one suggestion to me modified:
- In the Point # I of the Article I , I think that it would be more representative and more democratic if the three commissioners were elected by the European Council
Thank you very much for your attention
Sincerly, Marie Therese Charlaix
European Comissioner of Sitanova
Thank you all very much for the continuous contributions! All concerns have been noted.
Councillor Nørreport, Section II, Article IV will ensure that Commissioners must come from different countries, so not to worry there! You also do bring up a great concern in regards to eurogroups. I am confident that the democratic spirit of the European Union, as well the Council's scrutiny, will ensure that voices of different political stripes will be reflected in the Commission. However, if eurogroups do pose a threat to this, then we can perhaps consider removing the ability for Commissioners to join such groups.
Councillors Stuart and de Riviere, you both pointed out some further redundancies and you both offered great remedies. I have included all of Councillor Stuart's suggestions, and I have also included all of Councillor de Riviere's suggestions in regards to Section I and II. As a result of Councillor de Riviere's suggestions, I removed the former Section V and slimmed down the new sections V, VI and VII. I believe most of Councillor de Riviere's other concerns were picked up by the ones made by Councillor Stuart.
Councillor Stuart and de Riviere, please take a look at each others suggestions, and then a look at the updated version I have, and feel free to make another round of comments or concerns.
Thank you Premier Emerett,
We appreciate your integration of our amendments. I think Councillor's Stuart's wording for the election procedure would meet my Government's approval and is a good amendment.
I am more than happy to collaborate further with Councillor Stuart to aid the Premier in achieving a text that meets wide political support for the reform and passes the scrutiny of our Governments'' legal experts.
My initial thoughts, without having consulted my Government, is that I am not sure the term ratify is the appropriate term to use when the Council confirms the appointment of an individual to political office, the constitutional section limiting the Commissioner to only propose a legislation within their brief... It brings us a thought - Would there be value in suggesting that legislation whilst drafted by an individual Commissioner should in fact emanate from the Commission as a college? I think all Commissioners should stand behind in support of each other's work (strengthening the idea of the importance of a joint ticket), with the Commissioner holding the portfolio of course championing the legislation in the appropriate forum.
Back to the subject at end:
Rosebourg remains convinced that it would be worthwhile to make more explicit the procedure for appointment of the two other Commissioners, in reading the text, I am not clear whether the election of the Premier Commissioner automatically means the rest of candidates are elected alongside them. Can we approve one running mate, and not another, etc. These procedures should be detailed to the same level as that of the Premier Commission. The election process is clear for the Premier Commissioner but is insufficiently clear when it comes to their running mates. I am happy for it to be further clarified within the existing elections procedure section if you'd rather it remain in one section.
We remain dubitative on the added-value of a forced line of succession, there may be times when the Foreign Affairs Commissioner has better political acumen to be the Acting Premier than the Interior Affairs and I think it would be wise to build flexibility in the drafting to allow for this possibility.
We advised the inclusion, within the impeachment section, of safeguards requiring impeachment procedures to be motivated either by either a failure to perform the duties incumbent on the office, or by actions unbecoming of the office so as to protect the Commission when it is appropriate. Commissioners may sometimes be forced to take actions in the European interest that may not have unanimous support.. Provided they abide by the Laws of the region, and execute their duties faithfully, they should benefit from a check and balance protection that we feel is fundamental to ensure the Commission can defend European interests with Council retaining appropriate levels of democratic oversight to act when the Commission clearly oversteps its bounds.
I remain concerned that without amendments, the Offices [particularly the Premier Commissioner and the Internal Affairs] have overlapping responsibilities [My sense is that this is probably the result of the merging of offices]. Particularly the Premier Commissioner has the responsibility for the economic welfare, but the Internal Affairs has responsible for the political and cultural welfare, I am not sure what the added value is of explicitly calling the Premier Commissioner's office the first of the offices adds to the text either.
May I therefore highlight the additional tweaks we've made to each of the articles on Offices, we've really attempted to future proof these elements and add safeguards where we felt they were needed [for example when it comes to disaster relief].
The Office of Foreign Affairs seemed rather weak in its mission statement (especially compared to the other Offices), we have therefore taken care to expand its role to champion the interests of the region abroad and strengthen the influence of our fair Region in the World.
Councillor for European and Foreign Affairs, Josephine-Charlotte de Riviere for the Rosebourg Monarchy
Councillor de Riviere, I have included some of your suggestions.
Section III, Clause II is now more explicit in regards to the procedure involved with appointing the two other Commissioners. I also replaced the word ratify with the word "confirm" in that section. You also made a great point concerning the impeachment procedure, so I amended Article II, Section II Clause IV to reflect that. I used the words you proposed earlier.
In regards for the line of succession, the reason why the Commissioner for Internal Affairs is first and Commissioner is for Foreign Affairs is second, is mostly because the Internal Affairs Office is most like the Premier's Office in regards to their duties and their expectations. You would naturally expect the Internal Affairs Commissioner to have the more appropriate skills and the more appropriate experience for the Premier's Office than that of the Foreign Affairs Commissioner, regardless of the latter's competency. Furthermore, it would also ensure greater consistency across Commission tenures, wherein we can expect the same procedures from term to term. When selecting Commissioners for internal Affairs, Premier candidates will also knowingly choose them to be their next in line of succession. However, with that said, this up to the Council to decide, and not me. After all, this is supposed to be your discussion, and not mine. Thus, I would like to hear greater opinion on this further from the other Councillors. If no one else has an opinion on the matter, I will adopt your position.
While I expanded the Foreign Affairs Commissioner's duties to now include clause III, this really is as appropriate as Foreign Affairs Office gets. While I suppose its mission statement looks weaker, or rather, smaller than the other Offices, it also has the most succinct portfolio in comparison to the Offices of the Premier or Internal Affairs. Mind you, the Premier is now also overseeing economics, while Internal Affairs is taking on Defence and Peacekeeping.
When you say that there is an overlap between the duties of the Premier and Internal Affairs, which clauses do you mean exactly?
Thank you, I will submit the revised text for scrutiny with my Government and of course look forward to fellow colleagues' thoughts and views! We are but one nation's voice.
I believe there has been a good compromise proposed for the line of succession which we can fully support that establishes the standard line of succession to be the Commissioner of Internal Affairs followed by the Commissioner for Foreign Affairs unless otherwise notified to the Council by the Commission. This would certainly meet the flexibility we would like to propose the Commission benefit from, whilst retaining a good degree of stability as underlined by a number of Member States.
On the clarity of roles, I apologise sincerely for not appreciating the impact the compromise merging of offices would have on the logic of the offices, as I suspect they were more balanced before. My understand is that we now have an Office of the Premier Commissioner that oversees the Commission in its entirety and acts as its lead coordinator and representative. The Office of Internal Affairs essentially is the day-to-day manifestation of the working Union dealing with the mundane affairs of implementing decisions. We then have the Office of Foreign Affairs that represents the Union abroad.
This has informed our Government's perspective on the need to examine the Offices more carefully and take this opportunity to improve their remits. The Premier Commissioner should, in our view, ensure the Commission acts as a College, defend the common European interest, and defend Commission decisions and policy results. The Premier Commissioner is in essence the physical incarnation of the Union as a project. From that perspective, we find it odd that the Office of the Premier Commissioner has no role to play in promoting political freedoms, and civil rights when surely this should be its first objective, with economic cooperation a close second and that this role instead is attributed to essentially the Vice-Chair of the Commissioner. We believe it will be useful to grant the Premier Commissioner a political role for promoting the welfare of the Union as a democratic initiative designed to foster economic cooperation and the advancement of our peoples' civil, cultural, and political liberties.
The other place our legal service has foreseen possible tensions are essentially in Clause II of the Premier Commissioner's remit and Clause I of the Internal Affairs offices. The Premier Commissioner's remit stipulates its responsible for co-operation between offices and the European Council (which in our view includes by extension relations between the Member States as the Council is the forum where the Member States interests are expressed and defended). Internal Affairs' remit stipulates it is responsible for relations between the European Commission and the Member States. To us this is one and the same remit, expressed slightly differently and could lead to the two tripping over each other over who should liaise with the Member States over what. This is what we'd like to clarify so that the two don't overlap too much. We believe this can be achieved by making Internal Affairs responsible for overseeing implementation at the Member State level of European-level decisions, whilst leaving political relationships with the Member States at the highest levels the responsibility of the Premier Commissioner.
The only point to say on Clause IV is that European intervention on the soil (for any reason) of any Member State or indeed a non-Member State should be subject to a clear democratic mandate. I do not want the European Commission overstepping domestic civil relief efforts unless explicitly asked to do so by domestic authorities, and I think likewise intervention in a conflict area should be subject to a Council approval at some stage.
I've just realised that the current proposed Section V includes an internal reference - I'd suggest rephrasing "including through the presentation of a budget for each financial year for the Council to debate and vote on according to the provisions of Article II, Section III" to "including by proposing to the Council a Budget for each financial year."
Councillor Stuart, your suggestion has been implemented.
Councillor de Riviere, I included your very wise compromise under Section IV, Clause III. I feel like such a procedure is difficult to succinctly articulate, so I feel like I may have not worded it with justice. How does it look? As for the concerns about interventions on the soil, I did not include your former recommendation because it is not necessary. Such a safeguard is already in place by previous legislation.
I see now why you are under the impression that the Premier and Internal Affairs may have conflicting responsibilities. Premier and Internal Affairs Commissioners have always in fact had roles slightly opposite of what you suggest. While the Office of the Premier Commissioner does act as the Commission's lead coordinator, it does not necessarily behave as its literal representative on the ground. Actually, rather rarely, is the Premier ever in the thick of anything. It is often the one doing the mundane things you suggest. The Premier sets the agenda, coordinates with the Council, Court, and the other Commissioners, and holds discussions, such as this. While the Premier may coordinate implementation on occasion, it is often not actually the one actively doing it. Except now with Economics. Foreign Affairs does as you suggest, but it is indeed, actually Internal Affairs which "promotes the welfare of the Union as a democratic initiative designed to foster economic cooperation and the advancement of our peoples' civil, cultural, and political liberties", as you say. Internal Affairs has always, as an Office, been the Commission's prime mediator in conflict resolution with member states. It is the one championing civil liberties, and making sure the Commission's nstitutions are running with good governance. The Commissioner for Defence and Peacekeeping was in a similar position, but focused only on armed conflict. Now those two roles are combined - making Internal Affairs even more crucial.
I also think Section V, Clause II and Section VI and Clause I are distinct enough in regards to the European Council. Member states, as a whole, have very different jurisdictions than Councillors. Councillors, while they may be an extension of a member state's government in certain cases (but this is very rarely actually true), they are only so within the confines of the Council. Councillors do not, at least in any typical sense, represent their state outside of the Council. So when it states that the Premier coordinates with the Council, I don't see how it can be stepping on Internal's toes, or vice-versa. I think the boundaries of the Council and member states themselves are clear enough, hence why we have never actually had any tension there.
Understood. As you can see the text led us to a very different interpretation and therefore this conversation has been very useful to clarify this. With colleagues' permission, Rosebourg will revisit the Sections in question to see if there are amendments that could make this clearer and retain the essence of this exchange. And thank you for pointing out the secondary legislation that limits the application of the relief clause to scenarios where it is formally requested!
We believe the compromise text for the other point raised is a good effort and does not warrant any change.
It is my honour to submit a proposed compromise redraft of the Office sections with thanks for the clarifications on the roles and responsibilities provided by the Premier Commissioner.
We propose a slight restructured the order of the clauses and suggested Clause I of each section to be an overarching mission statement for each office. The Office of the Premier Commissioner sets the political and working priorities of the Commission for their mandate, the Office of Internal Affairs implements European Union decisions and policies, and the Office of Foreign Affairs champions the region's foreign policies in close consultation with Council.
You'll note I'm trying explicitly to move away from "is responsible for" that is quite repetitive to see one after the other:
Section V – Office of the Premier Commissioner
I. The Office of the Premier Commissioner sets the political and working priorities of the Commission for their mandate.
II. The Office of the Premier Commissioner chairs all meetings of the European Commission.
III. The Office of the Premier Commissioner holds the financial responsibility for the institutions of the European Union, and is required to propose a Budget of the European Union for Council to consider each financial year. The Premier Commissioner must propose as many budgets as is required to secure the approval of the Council.
IV. The Office of the Premier Commissioner coordinates the actions of the Offices of the European Commission, and the activities of the European Institutions.
V. The Premier Commissioner signs into force passed European Council legislation and European Commission decisions. The Premier Commissioner has no right to withhold his signature or exercise any kind of veto over Council legislation.
VI. The Office of the Premier champions economic co-operation among the member states, and monitors the strength of the economy of the member states and of the European Union as a whole.
Section VI – Office of Internal Affairs
I. The Office of Internal Affairs implements European Union decisions and policies for the benefit of its Member States and their citizens.
II. The Office of Internal Affairs is responsible for encouraging efficiency and good governance among the institutions of the European Union.
III. The Office of Internal Affairs coordinates relations between the European Commission and individual Member States governments.
IV. The Office of Internal Affairs safeguards the political freedoms and civil rights in all of the Member States of the European Union.
V. The Office of Internal Affairs fosters co-operation between Member States and mediates conflict arising between them.
VI. The Office of Internal Affairs coordinates regional relief efforts for parts of the region blighted by conflict or natural disaster.
VI. The Office of Internal Affairs maintains the defence and security of Europolis, and organises co-operation between the Europolis security services and national security services active within Europolis.
Section VII – Office of Foreign Affairs
I. The Office of Foreign Affairs champions the foreign policies of the European Union, in consultation with the Council.
II. The Office of Foreign Affairs maintains relations between the European Union and other regions, including through the maintenance of alliances and embassies.
III. The Office of Foreign Affairs encourages nations outside the region to accede to the European Union.
IV. The Office of Foreign Affairs is responsible for strengthening and promoting the European Union's influence among other regions.
I would like to begin by thanking all of you who have participated. Your input has been much appreciated and it has been invaluable in guiding this process. I also thank all of you for being thoughtful and willing to compromise when need be - I know it's not an easy thing to do! I do believe we have drafted the best piece of legislation possible with the best ideas possible. I have no doubt, should these amendments be accepted, that we will finally have a Commission that is far more efficient and accountable. I would like to also personally thank Councillor Stuart and de Riviere, who have been very diligent throughout this process, for providing so much input and feedback.
I have finally proposed our end result to the Council, which can be found here, so please begin to debate its merits!
Unfortunately Councillor de Riviere, I inlcuded the end result without your latest suggestion, as no one bothered to respond, because, as I assume, they are feeling burned out in this discussion, But, please, please feel free to bring it up in this official Council debate phase as an amendment. I suspect your voice will be heard there. You have been invaluable in this process, so I don't want you to be feel left out now.
Again, thank you all for this very productive process, and I hope that it all comes to fruition.