EU Primarily an Intergovernmental or Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

However, the scope and the activity of the European Court differentiate it from any other mechanism of applying the justice inside the European Union. There is the issue of the activity of the Court. This mechanism was designed to enable both the European Union and the member states to have a viable and legitimate environment to discuss and resolve their differences. More precisely, the European Court of Justice has a mandate to apply and insure the respect of the Communitarian law. In this sense, it is clear that the simple existence of a special system of law that regulates the relations inside the EU is an element of supra nationality. The European law comprises the particular treaties of the EU as well as the case law of the European Court of Justice. However, the activity of the Court is essential for pointing out its role inside the Union. It is an element of uniformity of the procedures and rules all the member countries must abide by and follow in order to benefit from the positive effects of the European integration. Therefore, it can be said that from the point-of-view of the communitarian law the Court of justice is a federalist concept.

Another important element related to the Court of Justice is its practical composition. In this sense, although the judges are designated by the member states and are of different nationalities, the status of member of the European Court of Justice forces them to have an impartial role in the ongoing processes at the European level. Therefore, the entire structure of the European Court is designed to protect and defend the rights and interests of the European Union in its relation to the states.

The discussion over the extent to which some institutions are more supranational and others are more intergovernmental cannot be dealt with in a decisive manner. This is largely due to the fact that there must be made a distinction between the composition of these institutions and their actual scope and activities. The entire structure of the European Union is a complex mechanism in which the supranational elements are mixed with intergovernmental ones; therefore, it cannot be said which one is more or less intergovernmental.

Concerning the European Commission, in essence it is a supranational structure. It has commissioners that represent the interests of the European Union in the face of the member states. In this sense, "the European Commission was envisaged by the early federalists as the EU's sole executive and the motor of European integration, acting for the greater good where national governments feared to tread, wary of sacrificing their own powers and interests. In theory, it has the sole right of legislative initiative and is still the EU executive" (Ash, 2005). Therefore, it can be said that the precise reason for the creation of the Commission was to embody in its actions the communitarian goals of the European Union. Nonetheless, the situation of the commissioners is rather debatable because they are appointed by the member states, rather than elected by a European structure. More precisely, the fact that each state has the right and obligation to appoint a representative for the Commission is a relevant fact for the way in which the EU combines the issue of intergovernmental with its supranational valence. In theory, this method of considering the composition of the Commission would suggest an equal and fair distribution of power. However, there have been cases in which an important country of the EU received a certain portfolio inside the Commission and it triggered suspicions over the potential influence the political factor had in determining the position of the respective Commissioner and the respective country. Therefore, it can be said that even the delimitations of the functions of the Commissioners is an issue which most often is discussed at the intergovernmental level.

Moreover, there is also the matter of the democratic deficit inside the European Union, a topic which is often associated with the composition of the Commission, an institution which is designed to express the power of the European Union. In this sense, it is considered that for a mechanism which must take into account a fair distribution of power, the Commission lacks democracy. Thus, in relation to the Commission "there are concerns that as such it is insufficiently democratic. This situation has improved recently with the Parliament now approving each individual Commissioner and scrutinizing the Commission more closely, but some suggest a more radical democratization, with a directly elected President who might be able to choose his own commission. This would give a Europe-wide electorate the chance to determine its agenda. But a problem is the general population's lack of interest and knowledge (turnout in European elections is typically quite low.)" (Ash, 2005). Therefore, taking into account these concerns it is clear that the Commission was expected to be more people oriented.

One of the most important players in the European Union is the Head of the European Commission. He is widely regarded as the political symbol of the organization and the one representing the interests of the Union in its relation with the member states. Still, concerning the Head of the Commission there are opinions which view him as a symbol of the supranational structure of the EU. However, while some countries which support a more intergovernmental Europe view him as too European, others consider him too intergovernmental.

In regard to the role of the Head of the Commission this is evaluated according to the elements of the intergovernmental and supranational theory respectively. Thus, on the one hand, the proponents of the intergovernmental approach such as Britain underline the efficiency of the way in which the President of the Commission is currently elected. The procedure implies two steps. Thus, "the President of the Commission is appointed by the governments of the Member States, and then approved by the European Parliament. This dual legitimacy gives the President political authority, which he exercises in a variety of ways" (the European Commission, 2008). Therefore, his legitimacy comes from two sources. On the one hand, he is nominated and approved by the European Council which represents the will and the desire of the political forces in the European Member States. This offers him the political support of the structures of power involved in the process of the political integration. At the same time, the President is in this case the connection point between the Member States and the European Commission, the executive body of the Union. Therefore, from this perspective, it is important that the President receive the unanimous approval of the heads of state.

On the other hand, the confirmation of the Parliament can be seen as being important for the democratic process inside the European Union. Although the confirmation is secondary to the acceptance of the Council, it is essential for the message it sends. In this sense, the European Parliament, theoretically the voice of the peoples of the European Union must offer the consent and must confirm the President for a benefic relationship between the institutions. Therefore, it can be said that the confirmation from the Parliament is a matter of the internal aspect of the Union.

At the same time however, according to the supranational theory, the President of the Commission should be given more democratic legitimacy. In this sense, states such as Germany and France which represent the Founding Nations of the European Union "call for a strengthening of the Parliament and Commission. Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has also suggested a directly elected Commission President" (Ash, 2005). Such a process would imply a greater concern for the democratic opinion of the EU, but at the same time a more difficult and longer electoral process.

Jose Manuel Durao Barroso is currently the President of the European Commission and most of the times considered to be the actual President of the European Union. According to official sources, "his political career began in 1980 when he joined the Social Democratic Party (PSD). He was named President of the party in 1999 and re-elected three times. During the same period, he served as Vice President of the European People's Party. In April 2002, he was elected Prime Minister of Portugal. He remained in office until July 2004 when he became President-designate of the European Commission" (the European Commission, 2008). He is widely viewed as an important member of the political arena of the European spectrum but at the same time as the element of cohesion for the political structure and for the relation between the institutions.

His main role would indeed require a more supranational attitude. Indeed, the Head of the European Commission must above all cater for the needs of the institution, and not for the member states comprising the organization. His position can be associated with that of the prime minister of a country which takes into account first and foremost…

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