Over at the excellent farmpolicy.com Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts, has posted a thorough account of the appointment of the new EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos. He says that while Romania had sought the powerful position, it was really a case of appointment by default:
I tend to feel that Barroso was left with no other option, as no one was willing to put forward a good candidate – and that he was the only suitable candidate from among the nominees.
40-year-old Ciolos has enjoyed a meteoric political ascent (just ten years ago was employed as an intern at DG Agriculture) but he still has to clear the hurdle of confirmation by the European Parliament. Roger says he’ll be an obvious target for a new Parliament looking to flex its muscles. He considers the arguments against Ciolos and the reasons why the EP Ag Committee (COMAGRI) may choose to support the appointment of a inexperienced Agriculture Commissioner who is far from a household name in European politics.
Arguments Against Ciolos
– Wrong nationality. Romania is too dependent on agriculture, and besides which Ciolos is too French – having lived & studied there, i.e. a Romanian with a French CV.
– lacks political experience. He was only Minister for 15 months, and has spent most of his relatively short career as a civil servant; When he was Minister EU payments to Romania (for pre-accession Rural Development schemes) were frozen because of maladministration;
– lacks political support within the EP. Although he previously insisted that he was “independent”, he has now been embraced by the right of centre European People’s Party, but it remains unclear how strong this support is.
Arguments for COMAGRI supporting Ciolos
– Lack of alternative – COMAGRI is pro-farmer, and the fear from blocking him is who might be offered as an alternative Commissioner. Certainly it would be no one as well-qualified & informed as Ciolos. Without any doubt, there is no other Romanian who would be acceptable for the post.
– Lack of political experience – With co-decision, it could be a massive advantage for the EP, and for the COMAGRI in particular, to have an inexperienced Commissioner. He is reasonably close to COMAGRI Chairman Paolo De Castro (former Italian Minister) from their time together as Ministers – and so De Castro may have a much stronger influence over him, than over a different Commissioner.
Readers should be aware that we’re still figuring out how to get the website to correctly display the ‘s’ diacritic character in the Commissioner-delegate’s surname.