While David Cameron and his government are still reeling from the “coup” pulled off by the European Parliament last week in Brussels, when MEPs seized control of the selection of the next president of the European Commission away from national leaders, the EU elite are wasting no time manoeuvring to take away even more power from Britain and other member states in a series of smaller “coups.”
First there is the manoeuvring by the innocently-named “Friends of the European Commission.” It is in fact a pressure group made up of former top-ranking Eurocrats, corporate lobbyists drawn from some of the best-connected lobbying organisations which work the EU institutions, and former top-ranking eurocrats who have themselves become lobbyists.
The pressure group is in fact a marriage of two of the biggest vested-interest elites in Brussels
Faced with rising euroscepticism among voters in the EU who want to take power away from such elites, the “friends” have produced a working paper which proposes significant changes to the way the commission operates.
Instead of 28 commissioners, one from each country, acting as a college, the “friends” want the next president of the commission to appoint five vice-presidents around whom the other 22 commissioners would “cluster.” They would be subservient commissioners. Only the president and his five vice-presidents would meet every week, not as now the entire college of 28.
Since it is the economically-big countries with clout – Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain when it behaves itself – who will get the important portfolios, it is around this group of commissioners from big, rich countries the lesser commissioners would be forced to “cluster.”
What this would do is undercut the power of the small countries in the commission, something the EU elite tried to do in the Lisbon Treaty. Outraged vetoes from small countries stopped it.
Now if the new euro-zealot president of the commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, goes along with the “friends,” he will concentrate even more power into the commissioners of the elite countries. He will strip away status and influence from the commissioners sent to Brussels from small countries – or from countries that he feels are not on board the European Project, such as Britain.
In short, a coup: what the member states vetoed in the Lisbon Treaty will be accomplished anyway, without treaty change.
Next coup is the pact just agreed between three main pro-EU groups in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party, the Socialists & Democrats, and the Liberal group.
Faced with the decision of millions of voters to send eurosceptic representatives to the parliament, the three groups have made a pact to manipulate parliamentary practice so that the UK Independence Party cannot take the influential committee chairmanship which it had the right to claim because of the size of its group, called Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD).
So outrageous is the coup, accomplished by agreed tactical voting in secret ballots, that even the left-wing euro-enthusiast Green group have come out in support of Farage and UKIP.
“Excluding any political group from a committee chairmanship to which it is due under the established system for fairly distributing these posts would be a blow to the democratic process in the EU Parliament,” Margrete Auken, the Greens spokesperson on the Parliament’s petitions committee, told Euractiv.
Hermann Kelly, spokesman for the EFDD, denounced “a behind closed-doors coup.”
The last coup – or perhaps just a further British humiliation — that is underway in Brussels is more subtle. Isabel Hardman in the Spectator spotted it.
She points out: “One aspect of last week’s European Council meeting that most people missed was a document setting out what appears to be a significantly reduced role for national parliaments in the EU.”
She means the Strategic Agenda agreed by the member states which, down among the dull prose, called for “strong and credible institutions.” This meant the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament.
What the Agenda down-graded was any hope for an increase in the role of national parliaments in EU decision making. This was one of the few points Cameron has admitted he hopes to achieve in renegotiation.
In the first draft last week, which by Brussels customs must have been the work of British diplomats, a nod was given to Cameron’s hopes.
By the final draft that was gone.