That’s what Paul Adamson argues for in today’s Financial Times.Â The basis of the argument is that we should acknowledge that the commissioners are not a dispassionate executive branch of the European Union, but people who bring their country interests to their respective portfolios — so why not make this explicit and let the commissioners be the interlocutors of their countries with the EU policy apparatus?Â Example: Charlie McCreevy
It is no secret in Brussels that Charlie McCreevy, Irelandâ€™s commissioner, despite being responsible for the important single market portfolio, has regularly spoken out against moves to harmonise taxation in the EU. As an economic liberal he might well take this stance anyway but his awareness of the reaction to such a move back home might well have some influence on his thinking.
Adamson therefore argues Irish Lisbon referendumÂ voters were justified in feeling that the reduction in the size of the Commission did represent a loss in national influence — and that other populations should expect to feel the same way.
Nevertheless, this seems like an odd way to improve accountability.Â Citizens of each EU country already have a seat at the policymaking table through the Council of Ministers.Â So are we saying that there is something wrong with these democratic mechanisms requiring a political appointee to offset?Â Now indeed Ireland does seem to have an accountability deficit through the Dail, since the voters have made Fianna Fail the natural party of government and yet never seem that excited about the quality of government in months not containing a general election.Â But it’s still a stretch, I think, to argue that voters could latch on to a commissioner as their man in Brussels even if they think their own governments aren’t already doing that job.