Oh, what to choose, who to pick… The political campaigning of the Commission President candidates is in full swing, they´re travelling all over the place – Mr Jean-Claude Juncker (EPP) in in his blue campaign bus, Mr Martin Schulz (s) in his shockingly pink bus. Berlin, Bucarest, Paris, Helsinki, Athens… here we come!
And they get so excited both of them, happily promising the moon and the stars too. Mr Juncker, on a stop-over in Finland recently, got so carried away he even promised to sort out the Finnish Prime Minister Katainen with a good European job..
Mr Schulz, drowning happily in applause at a French socialist rally, mimicked the clever election slogan of French President Holland: “Moi, President!”, he stated proudly and went on to promise the end of social dumping. Yes, and he will rewrite the rules to fix the “posted workers” problem. And the 27 million unemployed can rest assured that he will find the economic growth they need to find jobs. (No need to be superstitious and remember that Mr Hollande had to eat his words, having sworn that if “Lui President!” he would sort out the unemployment… which since has only gone up.)
By the way, that´s pretty much what Mr Juncker promises as well, growth and more of social consideration. “Not only Socialists have a heart”, he tells us on twitter.
Things have to change, Mr Juncker adds. It is time EU high flyers became more sensitive to the concerns of the citizens. Mr Juncker – if president – will put up a fight to see no more bureaucrats at the helm of the European Commission, all Commissioners must be politicians. (A change badly needed, I think we can agree with Mr Juncker, seen as a whopping 4 out of today´s 28 current Commissioners are not former politicians.)
Martin Schulz promises – if He President! – he will make sure that financial transactions are taxed and corruption ended. (And he may have recently rather brusquely stopped people from bringing up a suspicion of corruption among his own entourage in the European Parliament, but that was because the timing was not right.)
Mr Juncker on Twitter hails an EP decision: “The bell has tolled for roaming charges – this is a great European achievement”, he tweets proudly. It was indeed a strong decision to stop telecoms industry overcharging us. Visiting Finland, however (home to the struggling telecoms giant Nokia) Mr Juncker declared his firm belief that we mustn´t hinder the telecoms industry to become profitable, so the EU commission will ( “if Lui President”) henceforth implement competition rules “in a continental spirit”. Mr Juncker is the man!
Or is he? Martin Schulz promises to end the EU meddling in national affairs if he becomes President. But then again, so does Jean-Claude Juncker.
Oh, the things you are tempted to say when you meet the voters! It´s the excitement of it all, I think. The carousing around, all the nice people you meet. But of course, they both know that most of what they are promising is waffle. Mainly, because a Commission president can not deliver on any of the above promises.
No harm done. Everybody tends to promise stuff to better their chances to get a nice job. Voters know that, they won´t be holding their breaths for Mr Juncker or Mr Schulz to deliver.
Only one little remark, however, to remind you of the European set up, that you have been important parts of for many years, both of you. Not only is a Commission President not able to deliver of any of above promises, more importantly he/she should not be able to.
If Europe needs to be less about austerity and more about social consideration, this will happen following a political decision made by elected politicians i. e. EU governments and the European Parliament. Not because a Commission president – blue or red – wants it.
Nations rule on taxes in the EU. Not the civil servants of the Commission.
Competition rules do not change according to the whim of a Commission president.
And if you Mr Juncker, or you Mr Schulz, as Presidents, were to introduce less meddling from the European Commission, this would basically mean trying less hard to implement the decisions made by elected politicians, neglecting democratic decisions as well as the very task that the EU treaty confers on the Commission.
The EU treaty may well say that the next Commission President should be nominated taking into account the result of European elections. It does not say however that the Commission President – the highest placed civil servant in the institutional set up of the EU – should all of a sudden start to implement his own personal political ideas.
But of course, all your voters are surely aware of this so what you are doing on your European Tours is just a bit of fun, a bit of harmless campaigning. Carry on!, I´ve not made my mind up yet. Now, who to pick…?