Reform #2: Political system (vol. 3) – European Government
In my previous articles, I introduced my ideas on reforming the European electoral system (see Reform #2 vol. 1) and the European Parliament (or EP, see Reform #2 vol. 2) as the first steps of the reformation of the European political system. As previously discussed, pan-Europarties are going to be elected to the EP, where seat allocation is going to be defined by the overall election results of the pan-Europarties and by voter turnout and election results of the national branches in the member states. Then, the pan-Europarties of the EP are going to form the European Government (or EG) by appointing the lead candidate of the triumphant pan-Europarty to be the Prime Minister (or PM) of the EG.
In this volume, I intend to introduce the European Government, which would be tasked to govern the Republic of the United Europe (or RUE), co-operating with both the national and the European institutions. In order to make this co-operation as smooth and as prosperous as possible, the EG has to have a broad European authority and a strong national counterbalance at the same time, whilst replacing the European Commission and the Council of the European Union as a natural result.
The European Commission of the European Union
The European Commission (or EC) is the executive body of the European Union (since 1965). Originally, the EC was predestined to act as the government of the EU, but it does not own such authority. However, the EC is the only institution that possesses legislative initiative and strong powers regarding competition and external trade policies. The EC is formed by a college of members (or Commissioners) delegated by the member states along the principle of one Commissioner per member state (since the Lisbon Treaty), whose terms of office is limited to five years, which is – since the Maastricht Treaty – renewable. Complete independence is required from every Commissioner in order to serve general European interests, meaning that they can neither seek nor take instructions from any external EU bodies or national governments. Also, they cannot be engaged in any other occupation.
The European Commission holds the powers of full initiative (legislative, budgetary, relations with non-member countries) and limited initiative (recommendation, opinion), of which the latter applies to the Commission’s role regarding the Economic and Monetary Union and to the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The President of the European Commission (the office currently held by Ursula von der Leyen) decides on the internal organisation of the body, which consists of 33 Directorates-Generals. Generally, they are responsible for developing strategies, for drafting legislation, for mediating in the legislative process, for representing the EU in trade negotiations, for making regulations (e.g. competition policy), for preparing the budget of the EU, and for scrutinising the implementation of the treaties and legislation. The EC, as an institution, is collectively accountable to the EP.
The election of the President of the European Commission involves both the EP and the European Council. In accordance with the European election results and consulting with the EP, the majority of the European Council has the right to appoint a candidate for the position. Afterwards, the EP has to vote and decide with a majority of its component members over the candidate. At least, this was the case until 2019, when the Spitzenkandidaten system failed, as the European Council refused to appoint Manfred Weber (President of the winning EPP) to the position, nominating von der Leyen instead – whom the EP accepted.
The fact that the Commissioners are proposed by the Council of the European Union on the basis of suggestions made by the national governments, and then appointed by the European Council after the approval of the EP, affects the nature of the EU’s executive branch to be heavily national. Other complaints regarding the EC’s shortcomings are lack of transparency, unclear lobbyist relations, conflicts of interests, and excessive spending – all were highlighted in a number of reports made by internal and independent auditing organisations. Sadly, these issues were not yet addressed comprehensively in any proposals. Any recommendations regarding the improvement of the EC revolve around its authority, ignoring other aspects.
According to a popular idea, the European Commission could be further developed into a European government – meaning that the national governments would have a great influence on forming a European government, using the EC’s current structure as a first base – and somebody could run for presidency on a direct election, where the voters would decide on the figure of the President of Europe. However, this theory would only broaden the EC’s authority, failing to address its structural failures, thus leaving it unreformed. It is obvious that the EC could not be inserted into the political system of the Republic of the United Europe, as it is not compatible with the new European Parliament, which’s directly elected MEPs are going to determine the consistence of the European executive branch. Therefore, both the European Commission and the Council of the European Union must be replaced by a European government, which would take over most of their responsibilities, whilst taking more tasks and authority to govern the united Europe.
The European Government of the Republic of the United Europe
Most importantly, the European Government must be formed by the elected pan-Europarties of the European Parliament. The lead candidate of the winning pan-Europarty could be automatically appointed as Prime Minister of the Republic of the United Europe by the EP – and approved by the President of the RUE. It is in the duties and authorities of the PM of the RUE to appoint ministers, thus forming the European Government, which is going to propose and execute legislation. The EG should have a mandate for five years.
The responsibilities of the ministries of the European Government must be designed along European issues and context. Based on this, the following ministries could operate on a European scale: Climate Protection (including environment and nature protection), Consumer Protection, Culture, Defence (including security policy), Economic Co-operation and Development (including cohesion), Economy and Energy (including competition and trade), Education and Research, Finance, Food and Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Health, Home Affairs, Immigration, Justice, Labour and Social Affairs (including demography), Regions, and Transportation and Digital Infrastructure. The EC’s current responsibilities could be transferred to the EG. The EG will also be located in Brussels, whilst its procedural languages will be English, French, and German, to which Latin could be added.
In the legal hierarchy, the European Government is superior to the national governments and ministries, meaning that the executive branch of the RUE sets frames and directives regarding policy-making, but the national governments enjoy considerable liberties to accomplish the goals within these frames. The EG is also an administrative institution, which manages the state apparatus of the Republic of the United Europe, ensuring the implementation of law. The PM of the RUE will co-ordinate the functioning of the ministries, and will have a close working relationship with the President of the RUE. At the same time, the PM of the RUE will be the deputy of the President of the RUE, occupying the office of the Vice President of the RUE. The European Government is accountable to the European Parliament.
Amongst the ministries listed above, three of them might need some more explanation or clarification: the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Immigration, and the Ministry of Regions. Many states have ministries that are responsible for taking care of the culture of their communities. The European Ministry of Culture is going to be responsible for preserving the cultural heritage of Europe, focusing on general European elements, but also on the cultural expression of nation-states and subnational regions. The authority of the Ministry of Culture covers a wide range of areas, such as arts (e.g. architectural, cinematographic, literary, musical, theatrical, visual), historic sites (e.g. archaeological sites), national archives of cultural work (e.g. galleries, libraries, public museums), etc. The ultimate goal is to rediscover, maintain, and actively promote our unique European identity and rich European cultural heritage in the entirety of the Republic of the United Europe.
The Ministry of Immigration is going to be responsible for the issues related to immigration and integration in the whole of the RUE. Due to the lack of proper family support in the past, some member states lack labour force today. The real and lasting solution to this problem is the strong political support of families (e.g. in Hungary), but it is not going to bear fruits in the next two decades or so. Therefore, Europe needs a short- and mid-term answer to this urgent demographic challenge. The primary remedy is the potential redistribution of European unemployed from member states that struggle with high unemployment to those that grapple with labour shortage. Only as a secondary solution and only temporarily might Europe need professional labour force from outside of Europe as well. The Ministry of Immigration is going to be responsible to find a legal way to attract youth, who already speak the language of the welcoming member state, educated, and have a clean record. Should these criteria be fulfilled, and the welcoming member state is taking them voluntarily, the immigration is approved and the immigrant is permitted to have a temporary visa. Any sort of illegality (e.g. illegal immigration, committing crimes) results in an immediate expulsion. In order to promote legal immigration, the Republic of the United Europe could set up agencies (Bureau) in those countries, where it is willing to take immigrants from. The potential immigrants can proceed with their application in these agencies, which are going to make the decisions. These agencies would belong to the Ministry of Immigration, which could provide only a temporary working visa, and only then, if the applicant fulfils a job vacancy, what a European citizen cannot. Permanent residence permit and citizenship can be granted only by the welcoming member state (former needs to be approved by the relevant European institution as well). The member states could set up agencies under the leadership of the RUE (Ministry of Immigration) in those safe countries, where the demand is high (e.g. Bureau of Germany in Thailand of the Republic of the United Europe). These agencies could run various programs, such as language courses, culture educational courses, job adverts, relevant training, etc. in order to prepare the immigrant for the European way of life. The current form of illegal immigration – especially in masses and uncontrolled – is madness, which benefits neither the Europeans nor the arrivals.
The Ministry of Regions is going to be the official and direct link between the European and national ministries, co-ordinating the functioning of the various ministries between the EG of the RUE and the nation-states – similarly to the Council of the European Union. This method helps to discover and clarify every legal issue and complaint. Should it be required by a member state, the RUE’s relevant ministry could settle issues in the related area via an expert delegate of the Ministry of Regions working together with the relevant minister of the given member state (e.g. the RUE’s Minister of Finance sends a delegate to Austria to work with Austria’s Minister of Finance). The Ministry of Regions could legitimise the decisions of the EG by working together with the national institutions, whilst it could also prepare a forum for professional debates between the relevant ministries of the EG and the member states at the same time. Therefore, the Ministry of Regions could enhance quick and effective communication between the European Government and national governments, whilst increasing and ensuring professionalism and legitimacy.
The responsibilities and authorities of the European Government are going to be similar to the ones of the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, but going to be put into a broader context, gaining control over the national governments to some extent by setting frames and directives based on common and general European interests. The provision of official channels and forums will ensure that complaints are heard and dealt with, highlighting legitimacy and fairness (e.g. Ministry of Regions). The most significant improvement of creating the EG is the fact that its members are not going to be nominated by the national governments of the member states, but formed by the MEPs directly (via a new enlightened electoral system). The creation of the European Government (and its ministries) is going to supersede the European Commission (and its portfolio system) and the Council of the European Union automatically – or shady institutions, such as the Eurogroup. The result is a legitimate, efficient, transparent, and truly Europist executive branch, which’s power is far from infinite, as it is accountable to the European Parliament, whilst its decisions could be vetoed thus blocked by the highest institution of the European executive branch: the President of the Republic of the United Europe.