Select Committee on European Communities Third Report

APPENDIX 2 (Continued)


The Commission

In the context of enlargement, the question of the size and structure of the Commission becomes of crucial importance...... (253)

We consider that reducing the number of Commissioners to one per Member State would be a useful first step towards achieving a more efficient Commission. As the Union expands, however, the question of whether there is enough work to provide 20, or 25, or more Commissioners with worthwhile portfolios will again arise to an even greater extent. We consider that the best way to deal with this problem is to establish teams of commissioners to deal with the largest portfolios. The internal organisation of such teams-and the delicate questions of title, rank and status within teams-would be a matter for further consideration by the Commission itself. (255)


The Commission

Chapter 16 of the Treaty amends the procedure for appointing the President of the Commission. The European Parliament is given power to approve the President, instead of simply being consulted about the appointment.

A non-binding Declaration is annexed to the Treaty, in which:

"The conference notes the Commission's intention to prepare a reorganization of tasks within the college in good time for the Commission which will take up office in 2000, in order to ensure an optimum division between conventional portfolios and specific tasks.

In this context, it considers that the President of the Commission must enjoy broad discretion in the allocation of tasks within the College ...

The Conference also notes the Commission's intention to undertake a corresponding reorganization of its departments. It notes in particular the desirability of bringing external relations under the responsibility of a Vice-President."

However, the Conference also agreed a "Protocol on the institutions with the prospect of enlargement of the European Union", which effectively postpones the much more difficult and important question of the size of the Commission until enlargement begins to take place.

Article 1 of the Protocol states that:

"At the date of entry into force of the first enlargement of the Union, notwithstanding Article 157 (1) of the TEC, the Commission shall comprise one national of each of the Member States, provided that, by that date, the weighting of the votes in the Council has been modified, whether by reweighting of the votes or by dual majority, in a manner acceptable to all Member States, taking into account all relevant elements, notably compensating those Member States which give up the possibility of nominating a second member of the Commission."

Article 2 of the Protocol states:

"At least one year before the membership of the European Union exceeds twenty, a Conference of representatives of the governments of Member States shall be convened in order to carry out a comprehensive review of the provisions of the Treaties on the composition and functioning of the institutions."

The link made in Article 1 of the Protocol between the number of Commissioners per Member State and the reweighting of votes in the Council means that a new inter-governmental agreement will be needed before any enlargement can take place. In accordance with the provisions of Article 2, another IGC will certainly be needed before the current round of enlargement negotiations is completed. As of 16 July 1997, six applicant countries[11] received favourable opinions from the Commission.

11   Slovenia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Cyprus. Back

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