Union must be ready to work 'as soon as possible'

Manfred Weber urges MEPs not to create an 'institutional crisis' over the constitution of the college of commissioners.

By Manfred Weber

08 Sep 2014

Jean-Claude Juncker's election as the next president of the European commission in July concluded a months long process aimed at making the European Union more democratic. For the first time in European history, the president of the commission was directly elected by European citizens. It was a step towards more democracy and transparency that no one will be able to take back. The commission president has never been this close to the European parliament, and the European parliament has never had such influence on the political direction taken by the EU. It is a day to remember for the history of the European Union and for its institutions.

At the end of August, the election of prime minister Donald Tusk as the next president of the European council was in turn another special moment. Tusk's election was representative of an EU that is fully united, an EU where the member states that had been apart from the rest of Europe for so many years, are now fully integrated and given important responsibilities in our institutions. Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk: two great statesmen, two influential and charismatic members of the EPP. Their nomination is great news for Europe. It also shows that the EPP, more than ever, is Europe's driving force.

"Parliament needs to show European citizens that we are up to the responsibility given to us"

The EPP group in the European parliament and its governments have led the reforms allowing the EU to overcome the immediate crisis. The efforts made and the courageous reforms pursued by EPP governments are bearing fruit. But European citizens have suffered deeply from the crisis. With millions of unemployed, and youth unemployment higher than ever, all our energy and focus must be on growth and jobs. This is why our priority for the 2014-2019 term is to equip the EU with a successful reform agenda for Europe's future, to enable it to meet the challenges ahead by improving its competitiveness, for more growth and jobs, as well as regaining the trust of its citizens.

For the EPP group, the priority is to have a commission that is able to tackle the enormous challenges ahead. A commission that delivers solutions to European citizens' preoccupations, on growth and jobs, on competitiveness, energy, on measures to safeguard our social model, on a much-needed foreign policy for the EU to have its voice heard in the world. This is what European citizens expect from us. This must be the commission's number one priority for the upcoming five years.

"Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk: two great statesmen, two influential and charismatic members of the EPP. Their nomination is great news for Europe"

But for the commission to be able to start working on these crucial issues, it has to be organised and in place without any delay. This is why it is key that the parliament, which will be at the heart of the next institutional governance phase, with the hearings which will take place in September and October, refrains from creating any unnecessary difficulties in the discussions on the composition of the college. We should not create a new institutional crisis when Europe so urgently needs to get organised and to start working for its citizens - our voters would not understand it. Parliament needs to show European citizens that we are up to the responsibility given to us.

In the council, nominations took place behind closed doors. Although they could have taken place at the last European summit in July, they were unnecessarily delayed by two months. Contrary to the council, the parliament values transparency. We pushed for the election of Jean-Claude Juncker and we obtained it. We announced it to the voters way before the elections. We will organise open hearings that will give everyone the chance to examine the future commissioners' competence thoroughly. But let's not turn this highly valued transparency into a circus. Let's not ridicule our institution.

If we are to win back European citizens' trust and prove to them that they were right to vote for us and not to give their vote to populists and Eurosceptics, we need to get the EU institutions on their feet and ready to work as soon as possible. We should not blow this chance.

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