22nd Oct 2016

Date of Barroso vote could be decided next week

  • Mr Barroso: an October vote could lessen his chances of reappointment (Photo: European Commission)

MEPs may next week decide when they will vote on Jose Manuel Barroso's bid for a second term as European Commission president.

The political leaders of the groups in the European Parliament will meet once more before the summer break to set a preliminary agenda for the September plenary session.

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EU member states are keen to have the vote take place as quickly as possible and have slated 15 September as a possible date, after their efforts to get a July parliament vote on Mr Barroso were thwarted by a coalition of the Socialists, Liberals, Greens and far-left.

Many of the MEPs in the these groups consider Mr Barroso to be too economically liberal and too inactive in the face of the global financial crisis. They argued that a July vote would not have given them enough time to thoroughly discuss his policy intentions for the second term.

In order to remove a key technical argument of the anti-Barroso camp, national governments on Thursday formally nominated Mr Barroso, a Portuguese centre-right politician, to become European Commission president for a further five years.

Prior to that he had only political backing from EU leaders, allowing MEPs to say they could not discuss a candidate that did not formally exist.

The socialists are key

The key question is whether the vote will take place in September or be delayed further until October, when the result of Ireland's referendum on the Lisbon Treaty is known.

The position of the Socialists will be crucial at next week's meeting, with the largest group in the parliament, the centre-right EPP, in favour of a September vote.

So far, the Socialists have played their cards close to their chest. At yesterday's meeting of political leaders in the parliament, only the Greens and the eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group mooted an October vote. The Socialists did not take the floor on the issue.

An October vote would likely lessen Mr Barroso's chances of getting the post as a series of other jobs may also be up for grabs by then, depending on the Irish result. Mr Barroso's bid may get submerged by an overall deal on posts decided according to political affiliation, geography and nationality.

It is also opposed by Sweden, the EU presidency country, which fears the bloc will be distracted from real policy issues as it haggles over posts, names and job descriptions.

Commissioner hearings

The parliament's political leaders also agreed to have hearings in September for all the recent new commissioners, including from Poland, Belgium and Lithuania.

This will be a "light procedure", a parliament official said, as the commission's term is due to end in October and is more about upholding the principle that member states cannot send commissioners to Brussels without having them scrutinised by MEPs.

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