Guest blog from Julian Priestley: ‘In our name?’

The European Commission is neither fish nor fowl. Not quite a government, as such, it is more than just a secretariat or an administration. It proposes, it guards the Treaties, it rules on competition policy and on state aids, and it implements EU policy across the full range of activities.

To pretend as the UK government sometimes does that the Commission is just a technical regulatory body, not a political one, flies in the face of both constitutional theory and confirmed practice. And if this was just an administration then why did successive UK governments appoint Neil Kinnock, Peter Mandelson and Chris Patten as Commissioners? Whatever criticisms may be made of them, not even their worst enemies could describe them as desiccated technocrats.

For a future reforming Labour government, committed to growth through public investment, promoting the green economy, keen to reduce VAT if possible, looking for structural support for regions which are being blighted for the remainder of this Parliament, a strong and constructive relationship with the next Commission, which comes into office in 2014 will be crucial.

The next Commission looks like being less dominated by conservatives as member states incumbent governments pay the price for unbalanced austerity measures, and most incumbents are on the right. If the successors to the Barroso regime recognise that the answer to Europe‚Äôs sluggish economic performance cannot be yet more long-term wage deflation and more public spending austerity, then we may see a Europe-wide push for growth. Continue reading Guest blog from Julian Priestley: ‘In our name?’