After The Ceremony.

On Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell has already emptied his glass of constitutional champagne and makes several quite reasonable predictions about the future of the formal and informal relations between the EP, the Commission, and the Council with respect to Commission appointments.

According to Henry, the EP will get a real, though informal, right to reject individual commissioners, a right that will later be recognized in possible treaty revisions. As a consequence, the Commission president will have a more powerful negotiating position with respect to choosing his team, which, in the end will lead to “a quite real increase in democratic legitimacy for the EU.”

I think this makes sense, although I’m not too sure about a formal recognition of “the right to choose”. I don’t think that will happen unless there are more – similarly important – de facto power shifts between EU institutions in the future.

14 thoughts on “After The Ceremony.

  1. The powers moving from EU member states to the EU are not significant But what they signify is. This seems to be a harbinger towards a unified European state. Not in the near future but a after a lot of negotiations that just might be the way europe will be heading

  2. right to reject individual commissioners

    Sounds like a recipe for very prolonged horse-trading.

  3. So typical for this blogsite to start censoring contributors like Rupert. Doesn’t that reflect the essential censorship in all of Europe’s media when it comes to American criticism?

    Shame on all of you at AFOE!

  4. New Yorker:

    this website doesn’t censor contributors. Rupert got dinged for being abusive.

    Commenters on this site (not all of them Americans) frequently take strong stances against what our writers post; and fair play to them. Some commenters’ views strike me as wrong; a few as not merely wrong but idiotic as well. But so what? They are entitled to their opinions, and our comments boxes offer them a forum to share them. I would never (and I am sure I speak for all other AFOEers here) ban a commenter for disagreeing with or criticising something I write, even in the strongest terms. I certainly would consider a ban, though, for a commenter who is abusive or personally insulting, be it to a poster or to another commenter — and without regard to whether I agree or disagree with the substantive position, if any, that the abusive commenter takes.

    We want the comments boxes to be useful to readers. Comments that disagree with our positions are part of what makes the boxes useful (maybe the most important part). Abuse, by contrast, contributes nothing; it detracts. It worsens the signal-to-noise ratio and, if it becomes prevalent enough, effectively ruins comments as a feature of the site.

    Have a look at the comments on Kevin Drum’s site if you don’t understand this. Despite a number of interesting and insightful comments, Kevin’s posts are almost always followed by long, puerile slagging matches between commenters who are less interested in challenging or supporting Kevin’s positions than they are in sticking out their tongues and going Nyah-nyah-nyah at each other. Kevin’s site is so heavily visited there’s little he can do about this; we’d like to make sure the comments boxes on our more modest website remain part of why a visit to our site is worth the reader’s time.

    As for the essential censorship of American criticism in all European media, I can’t say I’ve noticed this; but I defer to your doubtless intimate knowledge of all the media in Europe.

  5. Very long horse-trading? That would be EU business as usual. A good cartoon on how the EU progresses I posted here.

  6. Mrs. Tilton:

    What I find fault with is that Rupert was banned for being “an asshole” based on previous posts. The posting he made that triggered the ban was not abusive at all (the language used by the censors certainly was!)

    It is conceivable that posters will tone down their commentary once they’ve been rebuked. Rupert’s latest posting certainly indicated that.

    Kevin Drum’s site has degenerated into a slugfest simply because he’s too busy or lazy to monitor the commentary, or because he sees this venting as a form of political rallying.

    But it was quite obvious in this case that Scott Martens and David Weman did not want to brook dissenting opinions on a thread that was based on a weak argument to begin with.

    It is, unfortunately, a tendency shared by many within European media (and, yes, I think I have quite an intimate knowledge of that, having worked in European media companies myself).

  7. “Abuse, by contrast, contributes nothing; it detracts. It worsens the signal-to-noise ratio and, if it becomes prevalent enough, effectively ruins comments as a feature of the site.”

    Then you should pay attention to what your AUTHORS are writing. Here’s the entry that Rupert took exception to:

    “It?s hard not to giggle. The Economist is probably the most prestigious name in the business press in the US. The editors? backhanded compliments to Bush don?t cover a contempt for his bungling, even as they support his efforts point by point.

    [A]s Mr Bush has often said, there is a need in life for accountability. He has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view, impose it on him, given a viable alternative. John Kerry, for all the doubts about him, would be in a better position to carry on with America?s great tasks.
    With Kerry, all they can seem to find to say about him that?s nice is that he?s a ?fiscal conservative? and that he?s not in debt to the radical right. Fair enough, I suppose, but I recall them saying the same sorts of things about Bush in 2000.

    Still, America has only had one CEO president: George W. Bush. To see the flagship of the business press toss him overboard is a real indictment, both of him and of the ideology he represents.

    Update: Didn?t notice this til just now either:

    Public Opinion Poll Indicates Iraqis Favor Kerry over Bush in U.S. Presidential Race (via Abu Aardvark)

    It?s getting harder to suppress the giggling.”

    The only thing in Scott’s entry that ISN’T “noise” is Scott’s claim that The Economist is “the flagship of the business press”. That was exactly what Rupert took exception to.

    If you want your comment section to be interesting and insightful and not puerile, start by making your ENTRIES interesting and insightful and not puerile. Almost all of the entries dealing with Euro situations ARE interesting and insightful(and for that I thank you all), unfortunately I find most of your entries regarding the U.S. to be much like what I quoted above; at best badly misinformed, at worst ignorant, immature and gloating.

    Commentors can only respond to what was IN the entry, after all.

  8. Very long horse-trading? That would be EU business as usual.

    At present the nuclear option forces the EP to provide one yes/no answer, just two possibilities. Answering yes/no to 30 individual commission candidates requires 700 people to choose one of more than 1,000,000,000 possibilities (2^30). It’s more complex than ‘business as usual’.

    Worse. Our newly empowered EP accepts, say, all but one candidate. However, the poor president is trying to put together a team and so he will still have to go and reshuffle the whole lot, just as Mr Barroso is currently doing. Therefore, the effect of rejecting one is the same as rejecting all anyway. No benefits for that extra complexity.

    Worse still. In a group of 30, there will likely be somebody that a majority of EPers don’t like and to stop the process continuing ad infinitum a hard limit will likely be put the number of times that candidates can be rejected, perhaps like jury selection. So, how do I make sure my controversial candidate is on the commission? By making sure enough candidates are rejected before presenting him. It’s easier to manipulate complex situations.

  9. Rupert,

    I am not responsible for what my co-authors post. If you think they are being abusive, call them on it (it generally works better when one does this politely). If you find me being abusive, I hope you will call me on that as well.

    Sometimes there’s a fine line between ‘blunt and coarse’ and ‘abusive’. I trust we will usually be able to judge the difference accurately; doubtless we will from time to time come down the wrong way. But then, it’s our call to make. If you think we are overly sensitive to the bluntness and coarseness of your comments, you are free to set up your own site, where you may be as blunt and coarse as you like (if you use Blogger, it won’t even cost you anything). But you might find that, when you have something to say that is worth hearing, others will be better able to see its worth if you do you do not mask it with bluntness and coarseness.


    I leave it to the masses to form their own opinion of the relative ranking of The Economist in the pantheon of the business press. That aside, the post from Scott Martens that you thoughtfully reproduced in full just above strikes me as less noisy then you think. Among other things, it notes that America’s one CEO president has been rejected by a source that one would expect, all else being equal, to look with favour on CEO presidents. (Of course, The Economist is hardly above ripping into active-duty CEOs when it considers them bad CEOs; why should they not do the same to a former CEO who has moved on to a different sort of job?) Also, Scott notes Abu A.’s report that Iraqis would rather see Kerry than Bush as president. That’s hardly noise. Doubtless the Iraqis will have their own reasons for their preference; those reasons might be solid or then again they might not. But it is not noise to note that the people who would, we were all told not so very long ago, be greeting US troops with flowers and sweets are disillusioned with the man who sent the troops.

    I’m glad you find our European coverage worth reading. I don’t think we’re guilty of kneejerk anti-Americanism round here. (You might have noticed that a fair few of our contributors are in fact Americans; and Scott himself didn’t miss by very much.) It’s probably accurate to say that the stock of the current US administration is not very high in afoe’s books. But if you think a critical view of that administration’s policy is ipso facto anti-American prejudice, then there is little I can do to help you.

  10. I didn’t say it was anti-American. Others have commented that way in this thread, so I don’t blame you for attributing that feeling to me by mistake.

    I’m also not saying it wasn’t anti-American, mainly because I don’t care what the position of your authors is. I came here for content, to either read or discuss. That’s why I spoke out about Ruperts handling and why I commented on Scott’s entry.

    “But it is not noise to note that the people who would, we were all told not so very long ago, be greeting US troops with flowers and sweets are disillusioned with the man who sent the troops.”

    You’re absolutely right but I’m going to point out that Scott DIDN’T note that, you did. Scott’s contribution was to tell us he was giggling. Do you see where I’m going with this?

    Apologies to Scott for using his entry as my own personal “bad example of “. I only used that entry to reply to Mrs. Tilton because it was recent in my memory, not out of some animus towards Scott himself.

  11. There’s nothing puerile about Scott’s post. It wasn’t (or, didn’t attempt to be) analytical, and in that sense was atypical for afoe.

    After the election we’ll presumably go back to never talking about US politics on afoe. Maybe that eases Felix’s concerns?

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