17th Apr 2021

Commission president vote confirmed for next week

  • Jose Manuel Barroso will present his policy programme to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (Photo: European Commission)

Jose Manuel Barroso came a step closer to being elected European Commission president for a second time when political leaders in the parliament on Thursday (10 September) agreed to hold the vote next week.

The decision, coming after weeks of delay was opposed by the Socialists and the Greens, but backed by centre-right, Liberal and eurosceptic MEPs.

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The vote will take place on 16 September and Mr Barroso is expected to win the simple majority needed for a second five years at the helm.

But the Socialists, who have been fighting a rear-guard action to make sure they are not sidelined in the next European Commission since their poor showing at the June European election, urged him to look for broader political backing, including from the left.

This, they say, would ensure him a political clout-winning 369 votes, or an absolute majority in the 736-strong parliament.

Admitting that his group is "not in a very strong" negotiating position, Socialist leader Martin Schulz nevertheless called on Mr Barroso not just to rely on "anti-Europeans" to secure the vote.

"I understood Mr Barroso as saying he is trying to get a majority for himself and for his commission that is not based on votes from the Kaczynskis and the Tories," said Mr Schulz in reference to the Polish and British parties that are the backbone of the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists group.

Mr Schulz said he would try to get his group to support Mr Barroso - a decision it will take on the eve of next Wednesday's vote - in return for the commission president agreeing to a list of conditions, including a "social impact assessment" on commission policies and giving the EU foreign policy post to a Socialist.

Nice or Lisbon

With the Barroso vote taking place next week, discussion is opening up about how to appoint the entire next commission, whose mandate expires at the end of October.

As delays to final ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's new set of institutional rules, look likely in the Czech Republic, even if there is a Yes in Ireland's Lisbon vote on 2 October, politicians have been discussing whether the next commission should be appointed under the current Nice Treaty.

However, the Nice Treaty says there should be fewer commissioners than member states from 2009, without going into details.

One suggestion to get around this is that the country getting the EU foreign policy post does not win a commissioner.

This would be in keeping the Nice Treaty but would also suit the Lisbon Treaty if it comes into force. Under Lisbon rules, the EU foreign policy representative is also vice-president of the commission and member states have agreed that each country should retain its one commissioner if Lisbon comes into place.

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