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Europe grows up

The end of the Santer commission was a curious, even comic, event. It provides a historic opportunity to improve the efficiency and legitimacy of EU institutions. But it is neither a crisis of the European constitution, nor the time to erase the "democratic deficit" by turning the EU into a supranational democracy.

By Lionel Barber   May 1999

One sunny evening, in the spring of 1995, I was sitting in the splendid headquarters of the Cr?dit Lyonnais bank in Paris, talking to Pascal Lamy, chief of staff to Jacques Delors when he was president of the European commission. As our conversation turned from the problems of the near bankrupt Cr?dit Lyonnais to less stressful matters in Brussels, the burly, crew-cut Frenchman declared suddenly that it was time for the European parliament to sack the European commission.

Coming from the man who had spent nearly a decade building the commission into an institutional battering ram for European integration, it…

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