Schäuble's plans to reform EU Commission
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has put forward proposals for reforming the European Commission. According to media reports he wants to strip it of powers such as budget supervision and antitrust monitoring and transfer them to other authorities. While some commentators see a politically independent economic administration as unrealistic others say the proposals could convince Britain to stay in the EU.
Brussels, Berlin, or who wields the power?
Tensions are mounting between Berlin and Brussels and the two ambitious men Messrs. Schäuble and Juncker, notes the conservative Lidové noviny, which initially sides with the German finance minister: "He's absolutely right about one thing: the EU needs an antitrust authority that is independent of the Commission. Like the ECB, the supervision of fair competition should not be subject to political preferences. … Say, for example, the EU is dealing with the issue of energy security and has to formulate political objectives. Its priority will be less dependence on Russia. At the same time an investigation is underway into whether Gazprom is breaking the rules of competition. However Gazprom, like every other company, has the right to fair treatment and the EU is already having to refute suspicions that it is exploiting its powers for political ends. Both the EU and Germany have a role to play. But some powers should be in the hands of neither the EU nor Berlin."
Monetary union unthinkable without political agenda
Wolfgang Schäuble's reform proposals are mainly aimed at putting core elements of the EU single market, such as antitrust law and budget monitoring, under the supervision of independent authorities. But Schäuble is wrong if he believes the political agenda can simply be made separate from the financial administration in Europe, points out the liberal conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "The argument Schäuble has presented for his project is crucial: EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was the candidate of the European People's Party in the European elections and he therefore has political legitimation and should not take on technical duties like the budget deficit or state debt supervision. … Berlin sees the prerequisites for the euro as technical specifications that must be adhered to under all circumstances, even if they directly affect the budgets of individual countries. … But it will be difficult to explain this to Renzi or Valls because both have anti-system parties that are determined to break with the euro breathing down their necks."
Clearer distribution of powers
The EU and Eurozone need to divide powers more clearly between supranational institutions and national ones, writes the liberal-conservative Tagesspiegel commenting on the discussion about reforming the EU Commission: "The EU and Eurozone have reached the point where they must adjust their structures to the new reality. If the Commission wants to change roles from that of an authority to that of a government it must surrender powers that don't fit with government, such as legal supervision. A disentangling of powers with regard to EU affairs and issues that continue to be national affairs would also help keep the British in the EU. A Europe in which responsibilities are more clearly allocated wouldn't have to get out of the swamp because it wouldn't end up there in the first place."
Europe must end its shilly-shallying
The EU and its members must finally reach a decision on whether to create strong supranational institutions or transfer powers back to the nation states, demands the conservative daily Die Presse: "If the goal is a politically and economically strong Europe with a strong common currency, then a credible, democratically legitimised model with strong supranational institutions must be developed - and this approach must be made plausible to the people. Because Europe can't function against the will of the national populations. If this doesn't work, then the EU will have to start thinking about how to dismantle the monetary integration achieved so far in a way that causes as little damage as possible. With the consequence, of course, that a Europe of nation states will relapse into global insignificance, and not just economically. But to continue with the shilly-shallying we've had so far should not be an option."