Van Bommel: no second term for Kroes

3 June 2009

Van Bommel: no second term for Kroes

“As far as we are concerned the discussion over a further term for Neelie Kroes is closed," said SP member of Parliament and spokesman on European affairs Harry van Bommel during Wednesday's parliamentary debate on the nomination of a new European Commissioner from the Netherlands. “In recent weeks Kroes has campaigned for her party, the VVD. In our view that isn't what a European Commissioner, an official who belongs in the background, implementing decisions from the member states and the European Parliament, should be doing.”

Harry van BommelThe mainstream parties have once again shown themselves to be masters of politics carried out in back rooms behind closed doors, of the party-political appointment. Dutch Premier Jan-Peter Balkenende has already expressed his support for the reappointment of Commission President José Barroso, who like Balkenende is a Christian Democrat. Labour finance minister Wouter Bos has already said that he has four candidates in mind for the post of Commissioner from the Netherlands, while the Christian Democrats seem to be claiming the position as their own because they are under-represented amongst mayors of major cities. (In the Netherlands, mayors are appointed by the government, but with an eye to the relative strength of the parties in Parliament and the country.)

The discussion is, Van Bommel argues, creating the incorrect impression that a European Commissioner represents the interests of his or her nation. “European Commissioners are supposed to operate independently and, according to the EU Treaty, do not serve the national interests of their own country. If anyone thinks that is what Kroes has been doing, they should take a look as her plans to shackle our public broadcasting service.”

The debate in Parliament was misguided, says Van Bommel. "The European Commission is not democratically elected, but has the exclusive right to propose legislation. It is, in other words, neither fish nor fowl. As far as we are concerned, the Commission should only do things that it is instructed to do and the right of initiative should lie with the member states.”

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