A SUCCESSFUL START TO LIFE IN THE BARROSO II COMMISSION
The Barroso II Commission has now been in office for nine months. As a Vice-President in charge of Inter-institutional relations and administration I have tried to address all the aspects of my portfolio.
One of my major responsibilities is making sure that the new institutional arrangements resulting from the Lisbon Treaty bed in smoothly. Eleven months into the life of the Lisbon Treaty I am pleased to confirm that the process of implementation is running smoothly.
Throughout the recent economic crisis, we have seen excellent cooperation between Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Council President Herman Van Rompuy, which has allowed the EU to play a crucial role in underpinning the euro and preparing for a sustainable recovery.
Under Lisbon, the European Parliament is now an equal partner with the Council of Ministers in legislative and financial terms.
The new Framework Agreement between the Commission and the Parliament will set up a special partnership between the two institutions. This agreement fully respects the Treaty and will serve as the basis for our future cooperation.
I have undertaken a tour of national capitals to urge national parliaments to make full use of the new powers they enjoy under Lisbon.
The so-called Subsidiarity Check gives the possibility for draft laws to be revised or even withdrawn if enough national parliaments raise objections.
Over the last nine months update of the rules on what is known as 'comitology' in the Brussels jargon has been carried out. This is the system under which EU states and the Commission take decisions on everyday rules and regulations.
We have also made rapid progress with our proposals to make the European Citizens’ Initiative a reality.
The ECI will introduce a whole new form of participatory democracy to the EU. It is a concrete example of bringing Europe closer to its citizens.
Introduced in the Lisbon Treaty, the ECI will allow at least one million citizens from at least one third of EU Member States to invite the European Commission to bring forward legislative proposals in areas where the Commission has the power to do so.
The General Affairs Council – as a part of my responsibilities within the Commission has played a very important policy coordination role, for example in preparing the European Council, the regular meetings of EU leaders.
Lisbon also brought us the European External Action Service. After having included in our talks with the unions on amending the EU's Staff Regulations rapid progress has been achieved.
This will ensure that the EEAS is staffed in the most efficient, transparent and fair way possible and that there will be a good balance between officials from the Commission, Council and national diplomatic services.
Running the Commission’s administration is never quiet and the past months have been very interesting.
A number of new Commission departments have been set up in order to bring our system into line with the portfolios of the members of the Barroso II Commission.
Three new women Directors-General as a further improving of gender balance at the highest levels of our administration have been appointed.
Reshuffle of senior staff along with an advertisement of senior management jobs specifically for those Member States which are still under-represented at the highest levels has been organised.
Reform of the European Personnel Selection Office recruitment procedure for new officials which will enable us more easily to recruit people with the requisite skills has been launched .
First competition under the new system attracted more than 51,000 applicants.
In terms of European Transparency Initiative more then 3,000 organisations have been registered in our Lobby Register so far and this number is continuing to increase.
We are making efforts to bring on board groups which are still under-represented – such as law firms, churches and think tanks and talks are now in full swing with the European Parliament and the Council on a joint register, which we hope will be up and running in June 2011.
We are also working on revamping the regulation on access to documents and are in discussion on this with the other institutions.
So it has been a busy start to life in the Barroso II Commission.