Decision by committee - the Brussels way
by our secret columnist in Brussels
Brussels works, drinks and sleeps in committee to the extent that they are an accepted part of the landscape – as Schadenfreude explains
The committee is a form of institution that some people love as a platform for giving others the benefit of their views, but it as has not captivated everyone. For example:
"Noah built the arc, for he was one man. All the men in the world, when formed into a committee, could not finish a tower" – CH Spurgeon, 1834-1892.
"A committee is like armour an excellent device to preserve a society from harm and to prevent it from doing much of either harm or good" – Ibid.
"Committee: a group of men who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done" – F Allen, 1894-1956.
"A committee is a group of the unwilling, chosen from the unfit, to do the unnecessary" – Anon.
"A camel is horse designed by a committee" – A Issigonis, 1991.
"A committee is an animal with four back legs" – John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Brussels works, drinks and sometimes sleeps in committee. They gather in three hierarchic levels in the Council – where the lowest level are significantly and hopefully called working groups. Meanwhile they abound in the European Parliament and are workplaces in the European Commission. Everything that happens is the output of multiple committees. One day it will all be done by teleconferencing but today it is face to face. When the commission needs outside advice it usually appoints a committee, and appoints 'sages' – wise men – to serve on it. Most innovation comes from the work of sages, although sometimes they might not recognise what has been done to their wisdom.
The profession of people who call themselves 'European Union specialists' has little to say about committees, regarding them a part of the landscape. Some use the word 'comitology' to describe the whole structure, which is a misnomer. In the Brussels vocabulary, comitology refers to a special kind of committee, occurring mainly in the field of the Common Agricultural Policy. The commission has a delegated power to make regulations for the execution of policy measures. In management committees for different products, it is required to consult member states, at working group level, and to "pay the utmost regard" to the opinion that the working group gives it. All the same, it works.
EU lacks driving force at time of greatest need
There is little dynamism in the EU, so the bold initiatives talked about have little prospect of realisation – and the problem goes deeper than the bloc's error strewn response to the economic crisis, writes our secret columnist in Brussels
We don't need and never voted upon a membership comprising an 'ever closer union'. I voted for the words 'the common market'. This is what Ted Heath sold us and then he signed up to whatever Brussels asked for. Now we are paying billions a year to feed the faces and the pockets of the European Commission. Lets get out. We have every right to stay in or get out tommorrow.
Geoff Wolfe - Littlehampton, UKIP member