21st Feb 2019

Centre-right backs Barroso for second term

Centre-right politicians in the European Union have backed Jose Manuel Barroso to have a second five-year term as head of the European Commission.

A gathering of the European People's Party (EPP), home to both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy's political parties, on Thursday (19 March) agreed to give its political blessing to the Portuguese politician, who has often indicated his interest in a second term.

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  • Mr Barroso - all set for a second term? (Photo: ec.europa)

"[Mr] Barroso has a broad appeal in all the main political families and is by far the best candidate for this position taking into account his successful term as Commission President and his wide political experience at the national level", said the President of the EPP, Wilfried Martens.

The EPP, currently the biggest political family in Europe, said that if it maintains its dominance after the June EU elections, then the commission president should continue to be a centre-right politician.

The commission president is chosen by member states, usually a strife-torn process carried out behind closed doors.

At the end of last year, EU leaders agreed they would decide on the next commission president at their June summit, shortly after the European elections.

For long, Mr Barroso's second term seemed almost a given - he has also received the backing of the UK's centre-left Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy cast doubt on Mr Barroso's chances by refusing to fully endorse him earlier this month, in contrast to previous public backing. He also suggested the commission president should only be decided upon after Ireland re-votes on the Lisbon treaty, set for the autumn.

The u-turn is thought to have come about due to Paris' dissatisfaction at the way the commission is dealing with the current economic crisis.

Neither Mr Sarkozy or French Prime Minister Francois Fillon attended the EPP meeting on Thursday.

For its part, the European Parliament said it is in favour of EU leaders choosing the president in June so it can vote on the nominee in mid July.

"What counts is that we hold elections on 15 July and that the president reflects the results of the parliamentary elections. Mr Barroso has done a good job," said parliament chief Hans-Gert Poettering on Thursday.

The commission's current term formally expires at the end of October.

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