Tuesday

26th Mar 2019

Barroso fails to convince critics in parliament speech

  • The Barroso re-appointment soap opera is drawing to a close (Photo: European Commission)

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Tuesday (15 September) went head to head with MEPs in a lively debate over his bid for a second term in office but failed to win over his critics.

The conservative Portuguese politician presented his policy programme to the plenary in Strasbourg in his trademark mixture of French and then English, speaking at first in generalities about the state of Europe in the world before moving on to a few specific proposals, such as the creation of separate commissioners for migration and fundamental rights.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The lengthy speech, which contained some overtures to his left-wing opponents, appeared to leave the status quo in the parliament unchanged.

Directly afterwards, the centre-right EPP confirmed its support for him as did the Liberals - although they called their backing conditional - and the antifederalist ECR group.

The three groups look likely to ensure Mr Barroso the simple majority he needs when his mandate goes to vote at midday on Wednesday (16 September.)

However, the Socialists, as second largest group in the parliament after the EPP, said they would not back him, as did the Greens and the far left.

The eurosceptic Freedom and Democracy group also indicated it would not back Mr Barroso, citing his support for the Lisbon Treaty, the proposed new institutional rulebook for the Union.

Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialists, accused Mr Barroso of "always help(ing) to serve governments" while Green leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit sarcastically noted: "Apparently everything is changing and Barroso is the guarantor of stability."

In his speech, Mr Barroso said he would propose a new law governing workers posted in other member states, make social impact assessments a norm and make a "comprehensive legislative proposal on the working time directive" - a law that regulates working hours but from which member states can exempt themselves.

These were sweeteners aimed directly at the Socialists, whose only weapon in the Barroso vote is the extent to which he wants multipartisan backing rather than just right-wing and eurosceptic support.

Mr Schulz warned that his group would also be instrumental when Mr Barroso is looking to put together his team of commissioners and will be closely looking at who gets what portfolio.

Lively debate

The debate was lively and, for European Parliament standards where consensual and polite politics between the main groups rules, at times quite personal.

Both Mr Cohn-Bendit and Mr Schulz rounded on Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt for his group's change from the anti-Barroso to the pro-Barroso camp.

Meanwhile Mr Barroso, who has been under sustained attack by Mr Cohn-Bendit since he was nominated by all EU governments in June, said: "You have an unhealthy obsession with me. I am certainly not obsessed by you."

Rounding off the afternoon's debate, Mr Barroso admitted that he would "prefer to have the support of the main political families."

"But some of them are excluding themselves from that. That's their choice," he added.

Referring to his policy guidelines that his critics accused of either being more of the same policies that contributed to the current financial crisis or too lacking in ambition, Mr Barroso replied: "Of course it's a compromise, but Europe only works on a compromise."

"At least give me the benefit of the doubt," he said, with the leaders of the Liberal and Socialist groups set to make their final positions on the Barroso vote clear on Tuesday evening.

Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem

Romania will move its embassy to Jerusalem, its prime minister has said, shattering the EU line on the Arab-Israeli conflict while the country holds the EU rotating presidency.

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Opinion

Russia and money laundering in Europe

After Danske Bank, both the US and the EU need to abandon the principle in bank regulation that it is all right to be a crook as long as you are big.

Agenda

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

The UK parliament will likely hold a third vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next week, determining the UK's departure from the bloc. In the meantime, the controversial copyright reform will be on the EU parliament's agenda.

News in Brief

  1. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us