Taking stock of the outgoing European Commission

On the eve of change, Mark Dawson evaluates Juncker’s political Commission in an article for SIEPS.

The outgoing European Commission has worked to become an institution more capable of taking political decisions, a goal set by its President Jean-Claude Juncker when he took office in 2014. This goal remains only partially fulfilled, but a return to a more “neutral arbiter” is not an option, says Hertie School Professor of European Law and Governance Mark Dawson in a new paper for the Swedish Institute for Policy Studies (SIEPS).

“Juncker’s Political Commission: Did it work?” was published in May 2019, and analyses the effects of the political Commission on agenda-setting, working methods and the legislative process. Dawson draws on publicly available statistical data on the implementation of the Commission’s ten ‘flagship’ projects.

He concludes that even though the political Commission was not entirely successful, the existential nature of issues facing the next Commission mean it cannot abandon this goal.

“The irony of the last decade, and the Juncker Presidency, is that it is the era where previously consensus-based areas of policy, with near unanimous national support, have become the most contested set of questions of all,” he points out. “Free movement (during the debate over Brexit), the need for a common currency (in the Greek and Euro crises), ‘basic’ rule of law standards (in Hungary and Poland), and free trade (in an era where this is attacked from both left and right) are all examples of issue areas that would have aroused far less debate one decade ago. We live in an age where things thought to be un-political, or part of a base-line societal consensus, are no longer so.”

Read the full paper on SIEPS website.

Read an opinion piece by Mark Dawson on the political Commission here.

More about Mark Dawson

  • Mark Dawson , Professor of European Law and Governance