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The European Commission in the Post-Lisbon Era of Crises

Between Political Leadership and Policy Management

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Edited By Michele Chang and Jörg Monar

The European Commission has alternatively been portrayed as an all-powerful institution controlling far too many resources versus a bureaucracy that operates at the behest of Member States. In recent years the EU has been beset by major challenges coming from the inside (the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty) and the outside (the global financial crisis). How has the Commission responded to these events? Has the Commission changed substantially in terms of its institutional structure or the functions it performs? To what extent was the Commission actively promoting such changes versus accepting initiatives emanating from the Member States?
This edited volume seeks to answer these questions by examining this institution and how it has performed in several major policy areas in which the Commission traditionally has been both very active and others in which its influence has been more limited. This comparative study examines the impact that the changes brought about this past decade has had on the Commission.

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PART ONE: THE INSTITUTIONAL DIMENSION

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PART ONE THE INSTITUTIONAL DIMENSION 25 The Post-Lisbon Treaty Commissioners (2010-2014) Experts or Politicians? Eviola PRIFTI Introduction As a reaction to the European Commission’s scrutiny of Belgian draft budget in the context of crisis, the socialist Belgian Minister, Paul Magnette, declared in January 2012: The Commission of today is a center-right Commission that has a ultraliber- al vision. I can see it in the liberalisation of the public sector and […] also in the budgetary discipline.1 The polemic created around this statement raises the question of the politicisation of the post-Lisbon Treaty Commission. Based on the analysis of the sociological characteristics of the Commissioners and the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on their recruitment, this chapter takes an analytical and critical view of the predominant rationale created, among others, by the legal provisions of the EU Treaties which stipulate that the “members of the Commission shall be chosen on the ground of their general competence and European commitment from persons whose independence is beyond doubt”.2 In the academic literature, this idea is also developed by neo-functionalists who consider the Commission as a supranational institution marked by independent and a-political experts. This technocratic elite promotes the general interest on the basis of an impartial judgement, isolated from “power politics”. The main question that this chapter will try to answer is whether the post-Lisbon Treaty Commissioners are political leaders or rather policy managers. In other terms, to what extent have the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty had an impact on the...

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