Tuesday

13th Nov 2018

Sarkozy backs Barroso for second go as EU commission president

  • The European Commission HQ in Brussels (Photo: EUobserver)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has backed Jose Manuel Barroso to be president of the European Commission for a second term.

Mr Sarkozy, who has just taken on the EU's six month presidency, told a joint press conference with Mr Barroso: "If the question is 'Do I have a candidate?', the answer is 'Yes'. If the question is 'Is he sitting at the same table as me?', the answer is also 'Yes'."

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

Sitting at the same podium in Strasbourg on Thursday (10 July), European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering also threw his weight behind Mr Barroso, saying: "I also have a candidate: He's in this room."

All three politicians come from the centre-right European People's Party, currently the biggest political family in Europe.

For his part, Mr Barroso did not acknowledge the endorsement directly but still managed to set out his political stall in a winding answer in which he concluded that he was not a "bureaucrat or a technocrat but (…) a democrat."

The Portuguese former prime minister, who has made no secret of his desire to see through another five-year term as commission president after his mandate expires in autumn 2009, appeared to appeal to other political parties to look for consensus on nominating the next commission chief rather than concentrating on the fact that he comes from a particular political party.

"The different political forces have to put forward their positions - and their divergent positions - but not in such a way as to jeopardise the need for consensus," said Mr Barroso.

He went on to remind his political foes that the commission is not like a national government, often with one political force, but "will always necessarily be a broad coalition with all the different parties represented in numbers because they come from different governments."

"We have to be careful in our interpretation of this as having anything to do with my position individually," said Mr Barroso.

Who's up for the job

The question of who will be next commission president is about the only area where governments can out aloud speculate about possible candidates, as other major posts – such as the EU foreign minister and EU president – have been put on hold since the Irish last month rejected the treaty that would create these positions.

The commission president is set to be chosen in light of the result of the European elections – meaning that EU leaders are likely to nominate a candidate from the political family that wins the most seats in the European Parliament in June 2009, a provision contained in the Lisbon Treaty that MEPs are keen to see used.

While the EPP will be battling to maintain its electoral supremacy, the Socialists – currently second biggest party – will be hoping to tear down their throne by cashing in on the fears that EU citizens have shown about globalisation and what it could mean for their jobs and livelihoods.

Mr Barroso is likely to be pleased by the support from a major country, but is also likely to remember that his nomination in 2004 only came about as an afterthought when Britain blocked the will of France and Germany to get their favoured candidate in.

In addition, Mr Sakorzy has proved fickle in the past. Earlier this year, he supported Tony Blair for EU president but then later changed his mind.

But the French president's comments will crank up the Brussels rumour mill as the political hue of the commission president will have knock-on effects for the other posts - particularly the EU president and EU foreign minister, which could still see the light of day if Paris and Berlin eventually succeed in getting the next EU treaty in place despite Ireland's referendum rejection on 12 June.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure

EU ministers' discussion on how to address rule of law issues in Poland and Hungary gets stuck on procedural issues, while Viktor Orban's government claims it is a target of the Brussels elite because of its anti-migration stance.

EU's centre-right make Weber their man to replace Juncker

The centre-right EPP party's congress wanted to show unity - but divisions remain after the political alliance lined up behind Germany's Manfred Weber as their 'Spitzenkandidat' ahead of next year's European election.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us