Changes in the European Institutions in regard to the Eastern Enlargement: The distribution of power between member states of different population sizes

Seminar Paper 2005 21 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: European Union



1. The Eastern Enlargement of the European Union, 05-01-2005, and the EU institutions: A distribution of power by the number of states or by population?

2. Changes in the European Commission
2.1. Tasks of the European Commission and ways of change in regard to the Eastern Enlargement

3. The European Parliament
3.1. Changes in the European Parliament
3.2. Discussion about and explanations for the distribution of seats in the European Parliament

4. The Council of Ministers
4.1. Changes in the Council of Ministers
4.2. Discussion about and explanations for the changes in the Council of Ministers

5. The European Council
5.1. Changes in the European Council
5.2. Explanations for the changes in the European Council

6. Changes in further EU-Caucuses
6.1 The European Court of Justice
6.2. The European Court of Auditors
6.3. The European Economic and Social Committee
6.4. The Committee of the Regions

7. Conclusion

Works cited:

1. The Eastern Enlargement of the European Union, 05-01-2005, and the EU institutions: A distribution of power by the number of states or by population?

With the European Enlargement, ten new states joined the European Union. It was a very important step to integrate most of the former socialistic eastern European states and two Mediterranean states into the European Union. The Eastern Enlargement is a huge enlargement if we take into consideration that the new states make forty per cent of the whole number of states of the European Union and that brings a lot of countries with a lower GNP and a smaller number of citizens than other countries of the European Union into the EU. The Eastern Enlargement has a lot of various drastic effects. It has implications for certain political domains as the agrarian policy and the redistribution of money between richer and poorer countries. It also has effects on the middle- and eastern European states. In this paper, the implications of the eastern enlargement for the European institutions will be investigated.

The EU has grown considerably due to the Eastern Enlargement. Despite the fact that most new states have a relatively low population, the entire number of states that joined due to the eastern enlargement total 40% of all the nations in the EU. This means that a large number of states joined the European Union; but they have, with the exception of Poland which has as well as Spain about 40 Mil. inhabitants, a small population compared to the other member states. Four 'old' member states, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK, are still bigger than Poland.

In this paper, it will be looked at the changes which were made within the institutions and which conflicts of power they faced because of the enlargement. How were the institutions adapted to the Eastern Enlargement? What does seem to be more important, the number of states or the population a state is representing? Both considering the Nice Treaty and the Constitutional Treaty, I will discuss the changes of the European institutions because of the Eastern Enlargement. How can the decision making system be so reconstructed that its efficiency and effectiveness are ensured? The European Commission, Council of Ministers, European Council, Parliament, Court of Justice and further EU caucuses like the European Court of Auditors had to redistribute their seats. The changes will primarily be explained in a descriptive and then in an interpretative way for each institution. First, the changes which were agreed upon in the Nice Treaty and the Constitutional Treaty will be explained and then the reasons for this changes and their importance for the distribution of power inside the European Union will be discussed. As the new member states are by the majority states with a smaller population number, the question about the distribution of power according to their size of population is the basic question investigated in this paper. Which were the main points of conflict? Which countries are gaining power, which countries are losing power in which institutions? Did the smaller states or the bigger states gain or lose power, in which institutions and overall? How does the EU, in its institutions, seek to balance distribution of powers between member states of a very different seize of population?

I will show in the paper that even though smaller member states gained power in various institutions such as the European Commission, overall the big member states enlarged their power in the European Institutions.

2. Changes in the European Commission

2.1. Tasks of the European Commission and ways of change in regard to the Eastern Enlargement

The European Commission is the executive-bureaucratic arm of the EU. The powers of the European Commission are: Powers of initiation, Powers of implementation, acting as the conscience of the EU, management of EU finances and external relations. It has the task of inspection of all the guidelines and regulations which are enacted by the European Council. The European Commission is not a decision making body in legislative sense. In the Eastern Enlargement, the European Commission had the following tasks: Disposal of the 'avis', supervision of the achievements of adaption of the new member states (monitoring), moderation of the prenegotiations (screening), consultation with the achievements of adaption of the new member states (twinning), administration of the aid money of the new member states (www.dipo.tu-dresden.de). Commissioners are appointed by their national governments, but there are no formal rules of appointments. Nominees are discussed with the nominee for president, and must be accepted by other governments and the European Parliament. They do not have a position of being a national representative as they must swear on oath of office that they will renounce any defense of national interests. (McCormick: 90) Before the Eastern Enlargement, the Commission used to consist of 20 commissioners. With the hitherto existing system, the European Commission would have too many commissioners after the enlargement and so be too expensive, extensive and factually not necessary. So, in the Nice Treaty, whose aim it was to reorder the European institutions in regard to the eastern enlargement, it was agreed upon a new maximum number of 27 seats (including Romania and Bulgaria). After the entry of the 27th member state, the Nice Treaty envisions a new negotiation about an explicit miniaturization. The Nice Treaty determines that no member state has more than one seat. This means that big states as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK have to do without their second seat. For the European Commission, the Enlargement means a stronger influence of smaller states. The idea of creating two different commissioners came up, but was opposed by the smaller states. The Nice Treaty, furthermore, determined that the Presidents and the Commissioners are elected by the Council.

In the European Constitutional Treaty, new changes of the European Commission are arranged. As of 2014, the European Commission's number of seats will consist of two thirds of the number of member states in equal rotation. The Commission's legislative right of initiative will be strengthened as well as the position of its president. At Nice, it was decided to elect the President and the Commissioners by the council. (Chandler: 7)

2.2. Discussions about and explanations for the changes of the European Commission

Several propositions for the rearrangement of the Commission came up in the last ten years. The 'status-quo' model said that all member states will have one commissioner who is entitled to vote and equal. The increase of commissioners would have to be adapted by a stronger division of labor. In the 'senior-junior' model, a division between a two different kinds of commissioners was proposed. Some commissioners were enabled to vote, some not. Still, every country could keep its own commissioner. Even with an increasing number of member states, a reasonable division of labor and an easier decision making in a smaller council would occur. The 'State Secretary' model would have revalued the general directors of the Directorate-General in Brussels. These nonvoting State Secretaries could represent the commissioners in public, in the council of the commissioners, towards other institutions and states. They would have more influence on the work in their Directorate-Generals. Further on, the 'governance' model would leave the decision about the number and composition of commissioners in the hand of the president of the Commission. (Giering) All these models occurred in the debates, but finally the model of 'rotation' was established in the Constitutional Treaty. It was decided to have one equal commissioner per state and to have a Commission consisting of two thirds of the member states in equal rotation.

The agreement for the model of 'equal rotation' is in favor for an executable Commission which is not too big to come to decisions. With the decision for an equal commissioner of each country and for just one commissioner for each country, it is obvious that the smaller member states gained a lot of weight in the Commission. Nevertheless, why was this model of giving one equal Commissioner for each state be approved by the bigger countries?

First of all, it has to be taken into consideration that the Commission is not a decision making body, but an implementing organ. Even though the legislative right of initiation of the Commission was strengthened, for the investigation of power, it is more important to look at the distribution of power in the Council of Ministers or in the European Parliament, the organs making the decisions. On the other hand, the European Commission still has the monopole of proposal for EU-law articles and is like a 'motor' of the European Union. Although a gaining of power in other EU-institutions would be more significant, the changes in the European Commission still are a gain of power for the smaller states in this institution. The small countries now feared that with this compromise of distributing seats, the European Commission will be more and more powerless and that the big states would put all the decision making power in the Council. The gainings of power of smaller states in the Commission can be used by bigger states to legitimate the distribution of power in the European Parliament and especially in the Council. The bigger states favored the model of rotation, whereas smaller states were afraid of losing influence if they didn't have any commissioner for some time any more. (Wittrock) The bigger states, in times they do not have a commissioner any more, still have a lot of power in the Council and the Parliament which the smaller states do not have. For this reason, the convent, which was assigned to elaborate the Constitutional Treaty, proposed a have thirteen Commissioners with voting power as well as one nonvoting Commissioner for each of the other member states. (Giering) But the argument that a Commission of one Commissioner per member state is too big after the eastern enlargement still led to the holding on to the rotation system in the Constitutional Treaty. The inefficiency of a Commission consisting of 27 members is also seen by smaller states like Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Dick Benschop, Secretary of State in the dutch foreign ministry, asserted: “With a Commission of 35 members, we overextend the model.” (Wittrock) With the model which was proposed by the convent, a tightening of the European Commission was questionable. The second commissioner would be without voting power, but would still put in his voice. For instance, the German and the Spanish commissioners would have a lot to say in the domains of regional policy and structural policy, whether they had their nonvoting commissioner or one with voting power in the Commission.



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San Diego State University – Political Science
Changes European Institutions Eastern Enlargement Graduate Research Seminar Union



Title: Changes in the European Institutions in regard to the Eastern Enlargement: The distribution of power between member states of different population sizes