A former president of the European Union’s (EU) executive arm has said Germany and its interests have come to dominate the bloc at the expense of other nations.
“The resolutions of the Greek crisis was not a Brussels-Athens decision, it was a Berlin-Athens decision”, Romano Prodi, who led the European Commission between 1999 and 2004, told Politico.
The left-wing politician and former Italian president, who oversaw the EU nearly doubling in size, claimed the bloc had changed from a “union of minorities” to a “coalition of states”.
He said: “During my time at the Berlaymont (the headquarters of the European Commission), one just had to turn on a news channel of a European country and it was all about the Commission. Today, it’s all about the Council.”
The former EU Commission president Romano Prodi speaks during the press conference, on November 22, 2016. (GEORG HOCHMUTH/AFP/Getty)
The European Council is made up of heads of state and the governments of member states – in contrast to the elected but fairly powerless members of the European Parliament, and the appointed members of the Commission.
Mr. Prodi argued that member nations had gradually snatched power from the unelected Commission, but France had lost out and Germany had emerged as one of the most powerful forces in the bloc.
The Commission is led by the liberal federalist Jean-Claude Juncker, and its power has been further weakened by anti-EU referendums and a slight right-wing shift in the EU Parliament.
During the interview, Mr. Prodi decried democracy in the EU, arguing that referendums were a poor gauge of public views and should be avoided.
“Without trying to make reference to the upcoming referendum [in Italy], referendums are rarely about the question they ask,” said Mr. Prodi.
Italy’s current prime minister, Matteo Renzi, is facing defeat in a referendum on constitutional reforms that could spark the EU’s next crisis.
The reforms are widely seen as necessary for the nation to be able to implement the economic policy demands of the EU.