The European Commission has become illegitimate – commentary

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The handling of the coronavirus pandemic has clearly shown that in its current form, the European Commission is incapable of serving its intended role, political analyst Tamás Fricz writes in Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet.

The European Commission (EC) is bleeding from a thousand wounds. The Union’s ambition to treat itself as a federal government, contrary to the Treaties, is a source of growing mistrust, not only among European citizens but also among the political leaders of the member states, due to its total failure to procure vaccines.

Understandably and rightly so. The EC is unable to protect the health and lives of the people of Europe and has proven itself impotent when it should have been at its most effective. This is now claimed not only by old critics of the Union but also by loyal German politicians such as Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder and German Social Democrat Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

In this situation, it must be made clear that the European Commission, led by the visibly indecisive and helpless Ursula von der Leyen, has become illegitimate.

Consequently, it is not blasphemy to assert that the body in its current form is unfit to perform its function. The resignation or removal of the body is a realistic option, even if not now, in the middle of a pandemic, but after the crisis is over. A scandal of this magnitude of the Union cannot remain without consequences.

Moreover, in the context of this crisis of both health and confidence, there could be a good opportunity for EU politicians, member states and European citizens to rethink the future direction of the Union in a broader sense. All the more so because the current crisis of trust and legitimacy vis-à-vis the Commission is not only linked to the vaccination paralysis in itself but can be seen as the end result of a long process.

This has at least three ramifications.

The first, and perhaps most important, is that the European Commission has been extending its powers under the Treaties for quite some time and, as I mentioned above, intends to act as the federal government of a United States of Europe that is becoming a super-federal state.

Secondly, the EC has claimed and is claiming for itself the right — quite illegally — to decide what counts as a European value, what counts as democracy, the rule of law, solidarity, media freedom and so on. The Commission, which is essentially still an office, an administrative, bureaucratic organization of the Union (not accidentally originally called the High Authority), has not been given any power to judge the legal, constitutional and governmental practices of individual member states in relation to EU values.

Finally, the fact that the committee is far from being able and unwilling to comply with one of the declared core values, the norm of democracy, is no minor issue. Nothing proves this more than the fact that none of the European Citizens’ Initiatives launched since 2013 (i.e., initiatives that gathered more than one million European votes) has been adopted by the European Commission, all of which have been discarded, without initiating a bill. Such was the case of the recent Minority SafePack Initiative, which aimed to protect some 50 million people belonging to national minorities native to Europe from possible restrictive measures by a majority nation.

That’s plenty enough: the list is complete. And yet, on top of this has now come the most recent failure of the Commission regarding the procurement of vaccines: The European Commission has been measured and been found to be wanting.

Title image: European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova speaks during a media conference on the Gender Equality Strategy at EU headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, March 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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