Barroso mooted for third term as commission president
By Honor Mahony
European commission President Jose Manuel Barroso should stand for an unprecedented third term in office, one of his senior colleagues has said.
"With Jose Manuel Barroso, we have a very good and active President, who I admire for his strength, his legal mind, his patience and his wisdom in managing the current crisis," Viviane Reding, in charge of justice, told EurActiv Italy.
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"My personal wish would be that Jose Manuel stays on for a third term. Because I am sure that we need continuity and stability at the helm of governments in the years to come to continue to make Europe stronger and more resilient to future crises," she went on.
A spokesperson for Barroso, whose current term runs until mid-2014, said this is "not on the President's mind."
"He is fully focussed on his second term. This is really a non-issue for us."
But while the next presidential term might be a non-issue for Barroso, for others it is already the subject of deep discussion.
The main European political parties will hold congresses in the coming weeks where they are expected to decide on how to approach the changing of the guard in 2014 - when all the major political EU posts, including commission president, European Council president and foreign policy chief are up for grabs.
"We will be making a recommendation to our party congress this autumn on what the procedure should be for the selection of a liberal candidate for the president of the commission. And we would see that process taking place in the autumn of next year," Graham Watson, leader of the European Liberals, told this website.
He said it is the first time the party has ever tried to set down rules for the procedure. Previously names "sort of emerged" from a "conclave of liberal leaders."
The European Socialist Party is due to vote to change its party statute on 29 September. The plan is to have national parties put forward a candidate for commission president. The final socialist nominee is then expected to be unveiled in February 2014, just ahead of the June elections.
The European People's Party, the largest party, will also discuss how to approach the next EU election at its October congress and is expected to take a decision on when to put forward a commission candidate.
Treaty rules say EU leaders will put forward a commission president name "taking into account" the results of the European elections.
The person must then be approved by an absolute majority in the European Parliament.
Meanwhile, the commission post will likely be part of an overall deal on all the major posts, satisfying diverse critieria such as nationality, political views and gender, though not necessarily competency or experience.
This horse-trading resulted in two unknowns being elected the first EU foreign policy chief and EU Council President in 2009.
Barroso, for his part, has regularly been accused by opponents in the parliament as being too slow and then too timid in response to the eurozone crisis. He counters by saying he is being realistic about what he can achieve.
And while the commission has seen a major increase in its powers over national spending as a result of the crisis, the immediate response to ailing euro countries is being driven by Germany, the member state with the deepest pockets.