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After Barroso’s reappointment for a second term as president of the European Commission and having had the treaty of Lisbon finally ratified it is now time to define work-programs, assemble a new –and huge- European commission and start implementing the Lisbon treaty.

One of the novelties of the treaty is the change of a rotative presidency of the European Council for an elected position of 2,5 years mandate. The new president of the European Council will chair and organise the meetings and represent the EU in the international sphere. In a way, if we build a parallelism with a state the new president of the European Council would be the equivalent of a king whilst the president of the Commission would be more of a prime minister. However the definition of the position is vague enough in order to give the possibility to the future president of the European Council to grow into a kind of a president of the “European republic” in a more French approach.

In other words, the power relation between the president of the European Commission and the President of the European Council is not set and it will very much depend on the personality of politicians presiding either institution.

From the side of the European “executive” the personality of Barroso is known for its non-confrontational and servilist approach and experience has shown that in case of conflict the Commission has preferred to be a secretariat of the Council rather than following the will of the European Parliament. It is hence to be expected that in case a strong figure, such as Tony Blair, would be appointed president of the European Council, the European Commission led by its president would easily fall under the control of the most intergovernamental body of the union. Therefore, for the sake of keeping interinstitutional balance and maintaining right of initiative as well as the communitarian will it is important that a personality of the level of Jan Peter Balkenende is appointed as president of the European Council.

Balkenende has proven to have a diffuse personality, lacks initiative and, same as Barroso, is experienced in losing referendums (Netherlands 2005). As sad as it is, Balkenende might be the best candidate to chair the European Council: he won’t go beyond the treaties, he won’t step into others competencies, he won’t have progressive ideas to increase the power European Council and as a consequence he will leave space to a very crowded, confused, rather powerless and ambition-lacking European Commission.

The EU needs strong figures to assert its role but it needs them in the right positions. A strong president of the European Council combined with a weak Commission president is not in the interest of Europe. The strongest European character should be leading the European Government, and the only embryo of an European Government should be found in the European Commission, not in the European Council.


  1. We constantly see problems in systems, where governments dependent on parliament are challenged by presidents (directly elected or not).

    If the EU member states establish a European Council President more powerful than a Senate Speaker, they cause a structural problem.

    If a future choice has to be made between a presidential or parliamentary EU, the traditions of most member states and the diversity within the union favour the parliamentary model (with coalition governments).

  2. I totally agree. And when we have a parliamentary EU, with functioning European political parties, we shall be able to elect the leaders that we are looking for.
    The initiative and leadership should fall in the hands of the head of the executive and having a strong “head of the senate” as you put it will cause a structural problem indeed.
    It is a pity that the current system is only pushing mediocrity. If we ever get a leader it will be by accident.

  3. Albert

    The question of redundancy between the President and Commission head will only be solved when they represent different constituents. The Commission needs to represent the people of the EU, the President needs to be the representative of the national Governments in Brussels.

  4. I am very pleased that Balkenende did not get this job. Balkenende would have been the worst possible candidate for any position in the European Union. He should become ambassador for the Netherlands in a small African country, called far-away-land. You can not find it on the map, but with any luck, Balkenende realizes this when he is already in Africa.
    When the Netherlands had to vote about the new treaty, the Dutch were put of by Balkenende. He insisted that his Christian god should have a place in the European constitution. This was completely unacceptable for the Dutch. And of course it would be gross discrimination of all people that are not Christian. After some cosmetic changes to the treaty, Balkenende said ‘yes’ to the new treaty, but the Dutch had said ‘no’. And we were not allowed to vote again, because that traitor knew, that we would say ‘no’ again. So he signed away our sovereignty against our explicit will. That is high treason. And high treason is punishable by death by decapitation in the Netherlands! Yes, you read it right. Politicians did abolish capital punishment, but they did not ask the people of the Netherlands. So, we never agreed with abolishment of capital punishment. Bank-robbers have no say in the punishment of bank-robbery. And politicians have no say in the punishment of high treason. Since we, the people of the Netherlands, never said ‘yes’ to a proposal to abolish capital punishment, common law prevails. And according to common law of the Netherlands, we decapitate politicians that are guilty of high treason. We have always done so, as long as the Netherlands as a nation exists.
    At the moment the traitors still hold power. But the voters run away from the established parties to extremist parties, like the PVV of Geert Wilders and the SP. The SP is a kind of modern communist party. Quit soon, we have elections. It seems likely, that the SP and Geert Wilders will get so many votes, that it will be impossible to form a government without both. Since the SP is completely unacceptable, it is quit likely that the Christian Democrats, the party of Balkenende, will make Geert Wilders the new prime-minister of the Netherlands. This would be like Germany 1933, were the Christian Democrats made Adolf H. the leader of Germany. Of course Geert Wilders is not as insane as Adolf H. But if I were a Muslim, I would pack my bags and flee from the Netherlands. Hey, I am not a Muslim, but I still plan to emigrate from this insane country next year.
    Geert Wilders is certainly not to be compared with Adolf H. Adolf H. had a very strong party with very intelligent people. The Nazi’s had a economic theory that worked. While the USA and the UK were suffering from the Great Depression, the Nazi-economy flourished. (To make things clear, I am not a fan of Adolf H. or the Nazi’s. I simply like to state the facts. We should dismiss the racial theories of the Nazi’s and learn from the economic practises of the Nazi’s.)
    If we compare this with Geert Wilders: Wilders does not have a party. He is the leader of ‘a movement’. There is no indication that he has an economic theory. His only theory is that Muslims are bad, that they are the cause of all troubles and once they are deported, the Dutch economy will flourish. And this person could become the next prime-minister of the Netherlands. With many thanks to Balkenende, who really chased away all voters from the establishment.
    After reading this, you will understand why I plan to emigrate. Wilders does not want to be compared with Adolf H. and of course we don’t. It would be a gross injustice to Adolf. Adolf was evil but knew what he wanted and how to achieve it. Wilders is just frustrated and stupid. And in a democracy the people will get the government they deserve. The Netherlands seem to deserve Wilders. First Balkenende, then Wilders. That really is to much to endure.
    My advise to foreign investors: Cut your losses, sell everything you have in the Netherlands and abandon this sickening country.

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