Priority for Better Regulation in Junckers Commission

The nominees for, and configuration of, the portfolios in the European Commission named by Jean-Claude Junckers this week gives some hint  of the priorities in European governance over coming years. In this context we might ask how significant is it that Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has been nominated as First Vice President with responsibilities to include Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights? At first glance this portfolio appears to reflect procedural rather than substantive concerns for the new Commission. The mission letter from President-Elect Junckers suggests that the brief is one which crosses the concerns of all the other portfolios indicating a recognition of the link between process and performance on key issues such as regulation.

By Colin Scott

Colin Scott is Principal, UCD College of Social Sciences and Law and Professor of EU Regulation and Governance at UCD. He is a Co-Editor of Legal Studies (Wiley-Blackwell).

26 replies on “Priority for Better Regulation in Junckers Commission”

This s all very pretty and one hopes that the new Commission will be be better than its predecessor. However, it seems to be all process and very little content.

The Commission is not a government but a player in a wider institutional context. It is limited by the degree that EU governments have agreed to exercise competences in common. There is a catalogue of such competences; in articles 3 to 5 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ( aka the Lisbon Treaty). The further one goes in the articles, the weaker the role of the Commission!

Article 3

1. The Union shall have exclusive competence in the following areas:

(a) customs union;
(b) the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market;
(c) monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro;
(d) the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy;
(e) common commercial policy.

2. The Union shall also have exclusive competence for the conclusion of an international agreement when its conclusion is provided for in a legislative act of the Union or is necessary to enable the Union to exercise its internal competence, or in so far as its conclusion may affect common rules or alter their scope.

Article 4

1. The Union shall share competence with the Member States where the Treaties confer on it a competence which does not relate to the areas referred to in Articles 3 and 6.

2. Shared competence between the Union and the Member States applies in the following principal areas:

(a) internal market;
(b) social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty;
(c) economic, social and territorial cohesion;
(d) agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources;
(e) environment;
(f) consumer protection;
(g) transport;
(h) trans-European networks;
(i) energy;
(j) area of freedom, security and justice;
(k) common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty.

3. In the areas of research, technological development and space, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities, in particular to define and implement programmes; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.

4. In the areas of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities and conduct a common policy; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.

Article 5

1. The Member States shall coordinate their economic policies within the Union. To this end, the Council shall adopt measures, in particular broad guidelines for these policies. Specific provisions shall apply to those Member States whose currency is the euro.
2. The Union shall take measures to ensure coordination of the employment policies of the Member States, in particular by defining guidelines for these policies.
3. The Union may take initiatives to ensure coordination of Member States’ social policies.

Article 6

The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be:

(a) protection and improvement of human health;
(b) industry;
(c) culture;
(d) tourism;
(e) education, vocational training, youth and sport;
(f) civil protection;
(g) administrative cooperation.

The reference should be to Articles 3 to 6 TFEU.

The biggest contradiction is between the euro as an exclusive competence i.e. complete transfer of the power to act (Article 3.1c; “monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro”) versus Article 5.1 which grants the power only of “coordination” of economic policies.

And remember customers, Dunnes Stores for better value and the Junckers Commission for better regulation in the absence of a fiscal backstop.

@ seafood

Even better than the Dunnes stores mantra, the advice “when all else fails, read the instructions” (which also happen to be the rule of law).


Does the Commission have any say over the use of mark-to-market accounting in the EZ ?
I would dump it pronto. It’s far too pro cyclical for its own good.

The FT gives its stamp of approval!

An immediate question is posed; which commissioner is to turn up in the Council, and the Parliament, to propose and defend a particular “Commission” (it can only act collectively as a college) legislative proposal? The commissioner directly in charge or his supervising VP?

The answer may be both (with all being sweetness and light between their respective advisers!).

Draghi has the Bundesgerichtshof in Karlsruhe and the Bundesverfassungsgericht backed into a corner with a BM21 multiple rocket missile launcher ready to go. Either they cave or the EZ fragments.

The warnings or scepticism of the armchair experts may turn out to be prescient or foolish but ostensibly it does seem at least a worthy experiment to have vice president supervisory roles in prioritising the policy goals of so many commissioners.

Reform always generates many naysayers.

Whatever the pluses or minuses of Jean-Claude Juncker as EC president may be, he starts with a lot more experience of EU policymaking and dealing with senior politicians, than his predecessor had a decade ago.

I’m not happy about the combination of energy and climate change under a single commissioner who is a former oil company president.

Reminds me of our combined Agriculture and Food department and the respective weights accorded to industry and public health.


when you now cite the FT on Junckers, do you remember their vicious slander campaign against him, just a few weeks ago?

When you look at their endless bloodthirsty war mongering with the Ukraine, you realize this is not soem neutral reporting, it is just shameless lying and propaganda from people who still think imperial

Mickey Hickey

How you read “Draghi has the Bundesgerichtshof in Karlsruhe and the Bundesverfassungsgericht backed into a corner” from the wyplotz hotzenplotz vox, remains a mystery.

I see a guy who, after turning 67, getting emeritus an no contacts in the EU anymore, just cries “I am still alive”

This generation grew up in the 70ties, and they still not understand that their Keynesian recipes didnt work at this time, just like Simon Wren Lewis, and some many others.

Max Planck once said: science progresses one funeral at a time .

And 2 links to give you some ice bucket challenge–business.html

“Ministers of the 18 countries sharing the euro also agreed that European Union budget rules, which set limits on deficits and debts and oblige governments to run balanced books, are an anchor of stability in the euro zone and need to be preserved.”
“said on Saturday his nomination meant the future of Poland was in the euro zone.” in contrast to your “EZ fragments”

and Mickey Hickey

with your fascination with the fireworks of a Stalinorgel, how many does the mighty Irish Army have?

And with just one Leopard 2 I can take out a full batallion of those, easily.
They can not take out my armor, they can not hit a moving target, but I can move with 70 km/h and shoot while driving full speed

This is the stuff, if your really want “to park your tank on the front lawn of the ECB” as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard put it.

And it has a great resale value, just look at that:

A 70 year old Panzer IV, and you still cant have it for a mere 2.5 millions.

But I am sure we will find a decent Leopard 1 for you, for lets say 1 million, excluding shipping and handling, offer valid only this month : – )

@ MH

What you say about Juncker is, of course, his strongest suit. One can only, for Europe’s sake, wish him well. However, it is not being a naysayer when a question mark is raised over what I would call the layer-cake approach to management reform i.e. add another layer and everything will be fine. (Its prevalence in Ireland can be demonstrated by easily identified examples).

The approach consists largely of a failure to recognise the real problem, whatever it may happen to be, in this instance that there are not enough serious jobs for 28 commissioners. There are far more fingers than pies, the result being unnecessary proposals pushed by one interest group or another, most not even in the Commission. A feature of the eurosceptic debate in Germany, by way of example, was the complaint that ministers who failed to get pet proposals past the Bundestag went the EU route instead.

Not forgetting the role of the Presidency of the technical meetings of the Council, with the politicians of each in turn setting its “priorities”.

Still, as Churchill said, “to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war”.

@ francis

“Man schiest deutsch”, so to speak.

As to the opinion of Tusk on the fact that he will also chair meetings of Heads of State and Government when these meet as the Euro Group, it is hard to see how he could have been nominated without this being also accepted. After all. Article 3.4 of the Treaty on European Union states baldly; “The Union shall establish an economic and monetary Union whose currency is the euro”. If Poland did not accept this, it should have negotiated an opt-out on the pattern of that applying to the UK (and to a more reduced degree to Denmark).


please !

to adress the 28 idiots are too many problem, or the 21 at the ECB, has tobe postponed for the next round of treaty changes. In the moment you make do with vice presidents, who do not have to say much either.

2nd thing: is so extraordinary stupid and cliche mongering, Al Frankens Stuart Smalley comes to mind.

G3 is 60 years old, can be produced by a dozen others. Boring

the imbecile writer misses out on the G36, the Milan, stuff of any value.

This is a typical example of why a military draft os good for you. One has at least some idea of whats on the menue of each others weapons cafeteria

@ francis

I am with Churchill on this one! Germany is the world’s third largest exporter of military equipment; preceded only by the US and Russia.

Putin is living in the wrong century, as are those who see justification for his actions. How it will end, nobody knows. (Merkel is, incidentally, giving a good impression of leading the European approach!).

The Irish Army is an arm of the Diplomatic Corps, a bit of peacekeeping here and there to cement relations with the US, Israel ….. It was never expected that it would deter an invasion by the British. For that purpose we would use what we call the patriotic corps, based world wide, recently known as terrorist activists. Cheap and incredibly cost effective.

I was at a wedding of a Panzer Division officer in Germany a few years ago. The buzz word in the Panzer world is “active armour”, they were appalled at the lack of active armour in the US and Canada where they trained on the tank ranges. They told me that US tanks in Afghanistan also lacked active armour. I also notice that Israeli tanks in Gaza use passive armour. Russia could go through them like a knife through butter. The days of conventional warfare are waning as America is finding out, much to its dismay.


Germany has recently fallen back from her natural position 3 in the war export trade to position 5. We will fix this negligence. And the stuff for the kurds doesnt count, because they dont pay.

Putin is just playing back to the US what the US did since 50 years, undeclared wars. He is very 21st century in how he does it.


active armour is no “buzz word” its around since Leopard 1 and the advanced versions of the T-72

And after that came the Leopard 2, the T-80, and the T-90, since then it all goes into upgrades of what is practically the final hull.

Just like with American Standard Toilets.

A Leopard 2 can take out everything with the right ammo, and the T-90 too,
but your stalinorgel cant kill either.

Active armour you just slab with some strings on the existing hull, but active armour also has disadvantages , errrm ……

and therefore you dont use it, if you are against enemies who cannot pierce the existing “passive armour” , like taliban or hamas.

Tanker warfare is of very limited use in many places, just like nukes, but there are scenarios, like Iraq 2003, where a sufficient number of the best tanks carry the day.

And getting back to thread topic, just for a short moment, “better regulation” means for us Germans also, that the whole thicket of vague regulations, which were based on insight an good will, are now made robust against obstructive, dishonest, downright criminal elements, often from periphery states.

One example was how some folks tried to torture BMW, the company most engaged with electromobility, with early impossible fleet standards.

The second example was the outgoing spanish guy, who grossly abused procedural rules to extract some goodies for some pet project in exchange to not causing damage with german renewable tax codes.

The Orange Order has been in decline since the fifties. The last few marches in Toronto drew few marchers and small crowds. The rider on the white horse was a Macedonian. In Scotland and Northern Ireland it went into decline when the IRA agreed to disarm. Its “raison d’etre” no longer exists.

The only Irish tradition that is thriving abroad is the St Patrick’s day parade. The main reason is it attracts marching bands from Falun Gong (China), Phillipines, Austrian/Swiss/German combos, Fire Departments, Police, Boy Scouts, Army, Navy, Cadets and many more. It is a universal celebration from Pagan days that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness (mid March).

The Scots I know see themselves as descended from Picts and Celts with a sprinkling of Angles and Saxons. The Irish make fine distinctions between the Scots, Welsh and English. We make a point of getting on well with the Scots and the Welsh and in my own personal experience the feeling is reciprocated. On the whole we recognise that independence can turn into a risky business which is why we wish them well with their campaign and would recognise them as an independent country immediately. Our role as we see it is as interested neutral observers who are well aware that they could become the new Switzerland or the old Bosnia, more likely the former than the latter.


I am actually assuming that you want to check with this whether I still have a pulse and check in on occasion at irisheconomy : -. )

First, to the dw article. This is how it looks when everything is perfect.

This is total national unity. There are no change requests from the opposition.

But they have to critizise “something”, so each opposition party sends one 3rd tier guy to say a few things they have on a wishlist.

The writer garnishes that with the traditional economist loadmouth Bofinger. Done.

Second, the boring Münchau.

Same thing, every 2 weeks, sunday evening, the “FT guest writer” has to write his column.

1. Start with a little self appraisal
“Until about a decade ago, I attended an annual conference at which we discussed the future of Europe”

2. Either gross historical ignorance or blatant false claim to then drive false conclusions
“The separation of politics and economics is in Europe’s DNA”
Macro was called for “political economy”, now “Volkswirtschaft”, and take a look at Philip Lane “Whately Professor of Political Economy” : – )

3. Take the latest events, Ukraine, the increase of the far right in various EU countries , Draghi, European commission

4. Mix in a little bit the traditional wishlist “fiscal union” now with mere questions marks : – )

And he is done with the article, to be written in less than 2 hours, I assume.

There is no “analysis”, and certainly not “concise”, just mere ticking off the boxes.

He gets the usual 50 comments, not from me.

Tell me just one statement there, you find worth to discuss here, I dont see any.

In his German spiegel column, I think weekly,

he follows a similar pattern, actually a little more complex.

And now I should say that this is the typical Habermaster blather mass production, to get DoD to give me “Tutorial XXXI” : – )

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