17, November, 2014
Commissioners are obliged by Treaty law to swear or affirm on their honour that they are absolutely impartial and independent. They must pledge not to take any instructions or seek instructions from governments, political parties or any interest groups or any ‘entities’, that is, anybody else.
Is that clear? Believers in divine justice in our democratic Judeo-Christian society, make an oath or affirmation before God. Those who are agnostic or atheists make an affirmation before their conscience (as their record for the Day of Judgement).
So far the Juncker Commission — whose members deem themselves to be in office — has contemptuously failed to take the oath of office. Today they are merely politicians, selected by governments as their personal and national representatives. This is contrary to the letter and spirit of treaties since 1951 — even of the misbegotten Lisbon Treaty that violated national referendums.
Over the years, as Europe’s honest broker showed itself less than honest, the Commission tried to make the oath an obscure and hidden operation. Was that because of a bad conscience about funding wasteful wine and milk lakes, meat mountains, butter bergs and politicians’ pet projects of useless airports, bridges and motorways to nowhere?
Taking an oath of office should be a celebration of legitimacy and public support. It follows general national practice in democracies. Members of governments, privy counsellors, members of national parliament generally take an oath of office BEFORE they take office. The US President takes his oath of office very publicly — with a whole day of celebration and before the widest audience possible. It is all broadcast on radio, television and the internet.
Why does the European Commission feel it is above the law?
A European Commission that refuses to take a very open and public oath of impartiality and independence while freely drawing its salary is acting contrary to Treaty law. This requires that they make a ‘solemn undertaking‘ BEFORE they start work. Why wait? What are they up to now? Making inappropriate deals? Perhaps obscuring problems and crises that may involve personal, party or national interests? Do they think they are permitted to violate the Treaties before they take the oath?
It is no argument to say ‘We will take the oath later, when we have time.‘ It shows contempt of the office. Where does logic or law say an oath of impartiality or any oath can act retrospectively?
Commissioners do not take office UNTIL they have pledged their suitability in an oath of impartiality. If they doubt this ask the judges at the European Court of Justice! Their oath is made as their entry into office. The President of the Court confirms the Commissioners’ oath to be the essential link BEFORE installation to office.
Why have 28 Candidate Commissioners, who should encapsulate honest politics, all remained silent about the issue?
The following is the oath of independence they have to agree to. Just reading it makes it plain that it must be sworn or affirmed BEFORE they start work.
“Having been appointed as a Member of the European Commission by the European Council, following the vote of consent by the European Parliament
I solemnly undertake:
- to respect the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the fulfilment of all my duties;
- to be completely independent in carrying out my responsibilities, in the general interest of the Union;
- in the performance of my tasks, neither to seek nor to take instructions from any Government or from any other institution, body, office or entity;
- to refrain from any action incompatible with my duties or the performance of my tasks.
“I formally note the undertaking of each Member State to respect this principle and not to seek to influence Members of the Commission in the performance of their tasks.
“I further undertake to respect, both during and after my term of office, the obligation arising therefrom, and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after I have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits.”
If Commissioners only take this oath months after taking office, does that mean that they can say in Court that what they did illegally before taking the oath is permissible as they are not obliged to be impartial before? Hardly. That is why the oath should be taken immediately and very publicly.
The first oath was not made in secret. Nor in the building of the European Court of Justice. It was made in the most public place, the City Hall of Luxembourg, before a big audience and national observers. A Court environment is useful to remind Commissioners that they have a legal obligation to be impartial. If they are not, they can be taken to Court.
But what is more important for the EU as a whole is that this oath should be widely known by all European citizens. All the ‘entities‘, the interest groups and all the many lobbies and lobbyists should see and hear it. They should know it is illegal to communicate with the Commission in secret. The treaties give specific means so that the Commission can be fully informed about all issues in Europe without secret lobbying of governments, companies and political parties.
Today it makes more sense that the oath should be taken in Brussels, before the public and the press, and broadcast to the whole Continent and the world. The Commission should act like any mature democracy does. Why? Because the entire population of more than half a billion people in the EU need to hear that all Commissioners pledge absolutely that they will not receive instructions, nor seek them. They will make decisions according to their conscience and as openly as possible.
Their oath, like that of the judges of the European Court of Justice, is intended to be taken before they start work. In the case of the Commission the oath is even more detailed than the judges’ about the impartiality that they must acknowledge and follow. Any deviation from impartiality will bring them to the European Court of Justice.
At the moment the Commissioners have not promised anything. Yet the Commission is in a crisis about tax fraud, tax evasion and avoidance and a number of other serious matters.
How will the unsworn Commission act now towards the citizen — who pays their salaries? What about ‘tax havens‘ for the world’s biggest companies? If the global companies do not pay tax, the burden falls on small companies and poor individuals.
Consider the matter of the State extracting your personal or small company taxes. You are brought to a Court of Law. How would you react if faced with a judge highly prejudiced and partisan against you? Distrust and fear.
How about a judge who was directly chosen by ‘entities and interest groups‘ who have already taken 40 percent of your income? For your case, they especially chose a judge who has declared and demonstrated his partisanship for decades. He maintained with pride his strong links to parties and specific interest groups.
I am not referring to a mere magistrate but the most powerful judge in the land. What if the judge was involved in multi-billion euro deals with the very people who were stripping you bare of your meager resources?
Wouldn’t you cry: INJUSTICE! Your whole being would revolt against the system. All Courts across the land would lose public confidence, their legitimacy would be reviled. People would forms groups based on their separate outrages to overturn and destroy the system. Society would be divided between the rulers and the skeptics. Europe will fragment. It’s happening.
What are the most powerful actors against individuals in society? Many would consider governments wield the most power. Consider how much tax they raise from society. They usually take up to half of all income.
|2012 Tax on national income|
EU28: 39.4% (Eurostat 2014).
History tells us that the State provides benefits but also abuses its powers. Some governmental groups, for example political parties, are assumed to incorporate the needs and interests of sections of the population. But their policies are often made in secret and donors to party funding often dictate the policies.
In the UK House of Parliament, whose members like to consider themselves the paragons of democracy, the following exchanges took place on 10 July 2013:
Ed Miliband, leader of the Opposition Labour Party: The Prime Minister ‘ is owned by a few millionaires at the top of society and everyone knows it.’
PM Cameron: ‘The trades unions own you (Mr Miliband) lock, stock and block vote. … They buy the candidates (for Parliament), they buy the policies, they buy the leader.’
Some consider that large corporations now detain the world’s most formidable powers. Even by 1900s commercial companies represented around half of the world’s largest entities, bigger than many national States. Today Corporations are huge. They provide goods and services for the public. They act globally. But who really controls them? Certainly not the public, it seems.
But the Commission is the world’s first international anti-cartel agency. For good reason. Cartels were the major cause of World War One. If the Commissioners are not staunchly impartial and seen to be impartial, how can the Commission control global cartels, global tax fraud, international mafias and illicit foreign exploitation of the EU’s internal energy and financial markets?
Corporations want maximum profits, minimum taxation. Hence they want to make secret tax arrangements with some governments so that they can avoid paying tax in all the Member States. And then the other States complain of lost revenues. The corporations work such ‘fiscal competition‘ to their own benefit. Multinationals can parachute their flexible ‘headquarters‘ into the most favourable State. Small States offer ‘sweetheart deals’. That means depriving other States of tax, but it means that small States can benefit hugely. If they tax the multinationals only a small percentage, it is a major boost to the small national budget. The large States– which might have large revenues if taxed at ordinary rates — are left high and dry. ‘European‘ tax has in theory been paid.
A dog-fight behind closed doors between them and tax administrations occurs. Governments are desperate to be able to tax the most lucrative corporations in the world. The public does not see the counter-struggle of the multinationals who fob off one administration against another and select the cheapest option. The Robber State is robbed and conned.
Now consider the public. What is their view? Because the corporations are paying low tax, the general public in all countries is paying higher personal tax.
Tax is levied by the State or rather the party politicians. They want to remain in power. How can they go about it? They usually try to bribe the public by offering ‘services‘, by creating ‘infrastructure’, by providing what they call ‘benefits‘ to certain groups who will vote for them. The also create bureaucracies and inefficiencies. Is their choice always correct and fair? Obviously not! That is why one lot of rascals gets thrown out in elections and another lot of rascals gets put in place.
However, nowadays it is harder and harder for the average citizen to distinguish between parties of ‘left‘, ‘right‘ or ‘centre‘. They seem all to be working on the same agenda. Some suspect this is ‘fleece the public‘ and maintain a well-paid career. Youngsters leave university, join the party apparatus and they spend the rest of their life in the service of the party. Nowadays it is common for politicians to have never held any other job or earned a proper salary in their life.
How can the honest, hardworking citizen find an exit to this sorry tale of corrupt entanglement and self-interest by
- Cartels and paper companies
- Trades unions
- Other interest groups
- External cartels and exploiters?
As Giscard d’Estaing reminded Brussels institutions recently, the Treaties say the Commission should be reduced to 13 or at maximum 15 persons. No public debate has been conducted, nor has public approval been given that justifies the Council delinquency in demanding 28 Commissioners, one for each Prime Minister.
- The European Commission is not the exclusive zone for hiring party politicians and excluding eminent members of the public who are not party political. The concept of the Commission being made up of only national representatives is repellent, odious and an affront to the Community’s supranational principle.
- A small, impartial Commission should be in permanent dialogue with duly-elected Consultative Committees who represent the whole European Community, its economy, its regions and its energy resources.
- The Council of Ministers is the institution for expressing national positions. The Commission is not their secretariat.
- The European Parliament is the place for political parties to express their views. The treaties say it should be elected according to a Single Statute for the whole of Europe. Politicians refused. Voters have been diddled out of their voice for more than sixty years. The politicians should be defending the individual who is in need and not consciously or indirectly furthering blind party politics.
David Heilbron Price