Chapter

Executive Selection in the European Union: Does the Commission President Investiture Procedure Reduce the Democratic Deficit?

Simon Hix

in European Integration After Amsterdam

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198296409
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599989 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198296401.003.0006
 Executive Selection in the European Union: Does the Commission President Investiture Procedure Reduce the Democratic Deficit?

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Discusses the issue of accountability. Argues that the holders of political power in the EU institutions must be made more accountable. The so‐called ‘permissive consensus’, in which Europe's leaders can build a European polity without requiring a priori consent from their voters, no longer exists. The challenge for the EU institutions is that a central element of the practice of democracy in all political systems is the ability of citizens to ‘throw out’ the holders of executive office through the process of competitive elections. The EU has, however, a ‘dual executive’. On the one hand, national governments possess long‐term executive power; on the other hand, in the everyday making of EU social and economic policies, the EU Commission exercises considerable executive power. In the exercise of these powers, moreover, whereas the Council is a true ‘collegial executive’ with a rotating president, the Commission is more like a national cabinet, where the Commission President is the primus inter pares, the ‘first among equals’. Prior to the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties, neither of these branches of the dual EU executive was accountable via the classic indirect or direct methods. In concluding, the chapter suggests that the Maastricht and Amsterdam Treaties have increased the democratic accountability of at least one part of the EU executive. However, critical questions remain to be addressed, e.g. has this quasi‐parliamentary model of EU executive selection really allowed Europe's voters to choose the EU executive? Can European citizens throw out the Commission President? Or is more fundamental institutional reform needed?

Keywords: accountability; citizens; democracy; elections; EU Council; European Commission; European Union; executive selection; national government; reform

Chapter.  7417 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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