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Kirkhope: All change for the Commission

Speech to the European Convention

Mr President, I would like to focus my comments this afternoon on the Praesidium's proposals for the European Commission.

First of all, I would like to support the view that each Member State—regardless of size or date of entry—should be represented in Brussels by a Commissioner. After all, this is only fair and is in the spirit of a genuine Community of nation states. Consequently, I would urge Members of the Convention to support my amendment to Article 18a paragraph 2, to read: "Each Member State shall nominate one person whom it considers qualified to be a European Commissioner. … The President-elect … shall allocate portfolios for each of the Commissioners."

I also personally believe that ideally the Commission should be more of a non-political civil service, and I would prefer that each Commissioner should be "a current or former civil servant from that Member State." However, I recognise that this view may not garner widespread support, but being a Commissioner requires more skill than is sometimes available from retired or preferred politicians.

My second proposal, again from Article 18a paragraph 2, is that each Commissioner should be "submitted individually to a vote of approval by the European Parliament." In paragraph 3, a censure motion must be able to apply to "the Commission as a whole or on individual Commissioners." Why should the whole Commission be rejected if one Commissioner is thought to be unfit for office? Why should the whole Commission fall following failings by one Commissioner? In Britain, if a Cabinet Minister were found to have behaved improperly, he or she would individually leave office, the whole Government wouldn't necessarily fall.

In conclusion, Mr President, I urge Members to accept these two amendments—one Commissioner per Member State and individual approval of Commissioners. This is to support our chief objective: the promotion of democracy and accountability in the Union. Thank you.

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