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The EU enters a new phase?

December 1, 2009
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It’s been a busy week in the EU.  Today the much debated Lisbon Treaty enters into force. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8387648.stm)  Also, European Commission President Jose Barroso announced the portfolios for the incoming College of Commissioners on November 27. (http://ec.europa.eu/commission_designate_2009-2014/index_en.htm)  Each member state nominates a commissioner and Mr. Barroso’s job is to assign the portfolios to each commissioner before being confirmed by the European Parliament.

France appears to be the biggest beneficiary of the new Commission.  Michel Barnier from France will the new Internal Market and Services Commissioner, responsible for managing the foundation of the EU—the free flow of goods and services across the EU.  In addition, Mr. Barnier will be responsible for regulating financial markets in the EU.  Even though Commissioners are suppose to represent the EU and not their home country, national politics often appear.  Many in Britain worry that Mr. Barnier’s appointment signal more EU financial regulations, weakening Britain’s financial hub, the City of London. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/nov/27/eu-commission-hedge-fund)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy not only saw the appointment of Mr. Barnier as a victory for France, but believes that France scored a “second victory” as Dacian Ciolos from Romania will be the new Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. (http://euobserver.com/?aid=29066)  While the French trained agronomist and former Romanian Minister of Agriculture is clearly qualified for the job, the appointment was a win for Mr. Sarkozy.  He can hope that Mr. Ciolos will attempt to maintain the status quo to the benefit French and Romanian farmers, as France receives the largest share of the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and Romania has more farmers than the rest of the EU combined.   While presenters at the Indiana University’s European Union Regulatory Policy: Lessons for Indiana forum argued that agriculture policy may return to the member states, clearly Mr. Sarkozy hopes that this new Commission will not make any drastic changes to the current structure of CAP.

Despite the changing nature of the EU, the appointments of Commissioners shows that national politics and positions still clearly matter

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