understandsits role are lato sensu political.However, politicisation as anopening up to re-
deﬁne the current regime of w hat is visible (or sayab le)
at the EU level is severel y
hampered by the current co nstitutional arrangem ent. The reasons why this is t he case
belong to different orders: the co nstitutional order of the EU
does not allow a strong
politicisation of certain issues because it is partially built on their exclusion and, at the
institutional level, cert ain EU institutions (Com mission, Council, Parl iament and
European Central Bank) are not prone to open up ei ther to previously unheard voices
or to the redeﬁnitionof the meaning of establishedpolitical practices.The article’spurpose
is to show that to concoct th e politicisation of EU l awmaking by targeting th e
appointment of the head of the Commission is both an ineffective and at the same time
potentially dangerous move. Limiting itself to institutional analysis, the article
individuates in the Spitzenkandidaten experiment two lessons: The Commission ought to
be constrainedwhen it operates in its competenceson the internal market in order to avoid
the depletion of national constitutions; on many new areas of competence of the EU, the
target for politicisation ought to be the European Council rather than the Commission.
Overall, certain modesty is necessary because of the entrenched reluctance of European
institutions to open up a space for politicisation.
The article’s conclusions are that
national political channels are still relevant to politicise EU lawmaking, and it suggests
that it might be worth trying to make National Parliaments (NPs) more autonomous in
their relationship with their own executives.
II The Spitzenkandidaten Experiment: A Constitutional Transformation?
The constitutional expectations developed around the European elections of May 2014 were
effectively quite high. The agreement struck among the main political parties for supporting a
candidate to be appointed as President of the EU Commission to be then approved, with the
rest of the Commission, by the European Parliament, had been presented as a chance for
enhancing the representative quality of European politics and, as a consequence, of EU
lawmaking. Among other things, this proposal was presented as an opportunity to put into
question the current Euro-predicament based on the politics of austerity. This agreement
mobilised some of the European political parties and entailed some form of electoral
campaigning across Europe for the candidates to the Presidency.
The intuition animating
this proposal was to inject into the institution endowed with the monopoly of legislative
initiative with a democratic impulse through a contest for the appointment of its head.
Delegating the selection of the President of the Commission to a contest was, ﬁrst, a huge step
forward towards a parliamentarisation of the relation between the European Parliament and
the Commission and, second, a way to infuse some degree of representativity in EU
In brief, a space for the inception of an informal constitutional change seemed to be
opening up once again in the history of European integration. As known, the candidate
See, for this deﬁnition of politicisation, J. Rancière, Dissensus(Continuum, 2003), at 27–44; compared with
particular attention to the reﬂex ivity of political action, E. Christodoulidis, ‘Against Substit ution’,inM.
Loughlin andN. Walker (eds.), The Paradox of Constitutionalism(Oxford University Press,2007), 189–208.
For a reconstruction of the EU constitution in terms of a legal order see K. Culver and M. Giudice, ‘Not a
System,but an Order: An Inter-institutionalView of European Union Law’,in J. Dickson and P. Eleftheriadis
(eds.), Philosophical Found ations of EU Law (Oxford University Press, 2012),54–76.
This leavesout of the picture the role of non-institutionalactors like social movements.
For an accuratereconstructionof the whole effortsee the encompassingwork N. Peñalver García,The Making
of a EuropeanPresident (Palgrave, 2015).
Politicising EU Lawmaking?May 2016
© 2016 John Wiley& Sons Ltd.280