Crucial vote on new Commission team postponed

27.10.04 @ 10:46

  1. By Honor Mahony
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STRASBOURG - A crucial vote today by the European Parliament on the new team of European Commissioners has been postponed after it became clear that a majority in favour of the Commission was not likely to be reached.

Incoming Commission President José Manuel Durao Barroso asked for the vote to be delayed so that he can reshuffle the portfolio in his team.

Addressing a restless and noisy plenary in Strasbourg, Mr Barroso said "I need more time".

Referring to the likely no vote, Mr Barroso said he had come to the conclusion that "the outcome will not be positive for European Institutions or for the European project".

This was met with jeering by a large section of MEPs – several of whom believe that the parliament’s flexing of its muscles on this issue is just the coming-of-age it has so long been waiting for.

Representing the member states, the other partner in this power struggle, the Dutch Europe Minister Atzo Nicolai said "We understand the situation".

He added that the consequences would be that the "current Commission will stay in office as long as necessary".

The decision to postpone the vote removes the immediate constitutional crisis that would have been provoked by a no vote.

But the EU now finds itself in "political virgin territory" as Parliament President Josep Borrell put it.

If the situation drags on the EU will be left without an executive just at a time when crucial talks on the economy, immigration, and the EU's multi-annual budget were due to take off in earnest.

The new Commission was due to take office 1 November.