Today the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his team and the new shape of the next European Commission. After the European Union has come through one of the most testing periods in its history, one of the biggest challenges will be to convince citizens that things will change. To deliver change, the Commission needs to be open to reform.

I am really hopeful that two things will happen:

  • One, the Commission will open its doors to European civil society more. If the European Union wishes to have an ever closer union with its citizens it must work better with civil society at member state level to achieve this.
  • Two, the European Commission and its new Commissioners will develop better mechanisms to hold members states to account on their engagement and involvement of civil society in the European Structural and Investment funds. The two are intrinsically linked to convincing Europe’s citizens that things are changing.

One of the biggest challenges will be to convince citizens that things will change

Setting the tone for this new era was a mission letter from Juncker to each of his Commissioners. The letters varied from person to person depending on their remit, but there were strong overarching themes of change. For me, the most interesting elements of these letters were:

  • a new commitment to transparent working – Juncker has demanded all meetings and appointments be made public on the European Commission website.
  • an appeal to work more closely with partners at a national level – Juncker states that he wants all Commissioners to commit to a new partnership with national parliaments and be politically active with national partners. This is a big step in the right direction but I wonder which national parliament it will be for us…?!

I really hope this fresh new Commission is the beginning of doing this differently.