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17th Apr 2021

Barroso to publish policy programme for next commission

  • Mr Barroso, a former Portuguese PM, is waiting for approval from MEPs (Photo: Portuguese EU presidency 2007)

The stand-off between Jose Manuel Barroso and a swathe of rebel MEPs will be back in the spotlight on Thursday (3 September) as the European Commission president publishes his policy plans for a hoped-for second term in office.

The move comes after a six-week pause, as Socialist and Liberal MEPs before the summer said they wanted certain guarantees before they would give him the green light and prevented a planned July vote on his nomination from taking place.

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The president is supported by the centre-rght European People's Party, which is the biggest group in the parliament, but he needs backing across other factions to secure a majority in the 736-strong house.

However, an alliance of left-wing, Liberal and Green MEPs has forced Mr Barroso to lay out his plans for the next five-year term in office in writing before they will finally agree that his nomination will be put to a vote later this month, with the prospect of a further delay until October still in the air.

The Socialists have 11 demands of Mr Barroso (including a charter of women's rights and effective regulation of financial markets) while the Liberals have five key points, such as the creation of a European financial supervisory body.

So far, Mr Barroso has been relatively quiet on his future plans. However, a speech given in Barcelona last week gives an indication of his thinking on how to tackle the effects of the ongoing economic and financial crisis.

In it, he suggested potential "new sources of growth", including high-speed broadband for all Europeans, a revamp of innovation policies, opening and developing markets and making the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The publishing of policy guidelines is set to force the different groups' hands, as Mr Barroso is unlikely to be able to satisfy all demands in addition to keeping his own EPP group on board.

Both Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt and Martin Schulz, his counterpart from the Socialists, have said that they want key positions for political allies in the commission, indicating this is where the compromise will lie.

Mr Barroso is due to meet the seven political groups over the coming week to spell out his policy position. The leaders of the groups will then on 10 September decide whether to put the Barroso vote on the agenda of the mid-September session in Strasbourg.

A further delay until October is set to be strongly criticised by national governments, which have been urging the parliament to appoint the next commission chief quickly so the EU can put this particular institutional scrap behind it.

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