European Movement UK

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The British press is, unfortunately, infamous for its tendency to overreact, so the articles and comments in the electronic and print media over the appointment of a Frenchman as Commissioner-designate for Internal Market should not come as a surprise. But this is not the time for over-dramatisations, many around Fleet Street and beyond might enjoy crying wolf but we should put last week’s appointment in context.
A Commissioner does not make EU policy alone. A Commissioner does not even make Commission policy alone. It is the 27 Member States in the Council of Ministers who ask the Commission to draw up draft rules, a task undertaken by the Commissioner in charge and the responsible for that policy Commission department. After consultation with stakeholders and all interested parties, legislative proposals are drafted which the Commissioner then presents to the College of 27 Commissioners. It is up to the College to give its approval collectively before the draft legislation becomes a Commission proposal to the Council and the European Parliament. Subsequently, the Member States in the Council and the directly elected MEPs approve, amend or dismiss the Commission’s proposals in a detailed process that ensures all different views are taken under account and the outcome reflects the common will of all actors involved in the EU decision-making process.

It is thus impossible for a single individual, or even a single Member State, to impose their will on others. The system has been designed like that for this very reason. Proclaiming that Mr Barnier will singlehandedly assault the City constitutes a gross over-estimation of his powers. Asserting that the French will be able to seriously damage the UK’s commercial interests under-estimates the role of the other 26 members of the European Union.

The kind of scaremongering that has been going on in the past few days serves no one. The European Commission and the European Council, with Britain’s active participation, have been working hard to ensure that the mistakes that caused the recent credit crunch and inflicted serious damage upon European economies will never be repeated. The Government and the City will continue engaging constructively in the decision-making process. Demonising our partners and victimising ourselves is truly pointless. There’s work to be done to put in place the necessary rules that will safeguard economic activity and financial innovation from risky and unsupervised behaviour. In London, Paris, Frankfurt or anywhere else. We should get on with that work, for the collective good of the EU’s economy.

Petros Fassoulas

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  1. It’s interesting how the (sceptical) media reaction focused on Barnier’s nationality as a sign of political inclination. i.e. advance of French interests must be bad for Britain.

    By contrast, (hostile) UK media reporting on the appointment of Cathy Ashton as High Representative ignored the possibility that her Britishness is an asset to the UK.

    The difference in response expresses a dilemma for the UK anti-EU lobby and a possible Conservative government. When team Ashton is up and running, will they see it as “British”, “European” or even “Labour” …

  2. I found it Ironic that the media pointed to the New High representitive as “unelected” … I dont remember the British people getting to choose who sits in foreign affairs ..

    The fact that they also complained that she was a member of the house of lords and thus unelected was nothing more than sceptics brainlessly pointing to the problems with BRITISH democracy .. and then attacking the EU for it.

    its really sad.

    But I think when complaints are made about the commission being unelected, more effort should be made to tell the British people that they ARE elected. Indirectly during national elections.

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