Monday

21st Jun 2021

Barroso vote to be postponed

  • The Barroso vote now looks set to take place in September (Photo: EUobserver)

Member states on Friday (3 July) admitted they did not have enough support for a mid-July European Parliament vote on Jose Manuel Barroso's bid to become European Commission president for a second time.

The vote is now likely to be postponed until September with the Swedish EU presidency hoping to get it wrapped up by the middle of that month.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We have spoken to several party group leaders and no decision is going to be taken on Mr Barroso in July within the European Parliament. I hope, however, that we will be able to decide within the near future on when that decision will be adopted," said Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

"We have to show all respect due to this independent institution. We shouldn't lay the basis for open dispute or argument between the institutions," he added, after his officials spent the last days sounding out opinions in the EU assembly.

National governments had given their political backing for Mr Barroso at their traditional summer summit last month and had been pushing for a quick July vote.

The retreat by member states comes after several groups in the European Parliament - including the Socialists, Liberals, Greens and far-left - were up in arms about the timing of the vote, planned for 15 July.

Not supporters of Mr Barroso, whom they see as being too pro-business or too inactive on certain issues, the groups claimed there was not enough time to thoroughly grill the Portuguese politician on his planned policies for the next five years.

They had also been objecting to a quick vote on legal and technical grounds. The addition of the Liberal group to the anti-Barroso camp earlier this week tipped the scales in their favour.

It meant that the centre-right EPP, which supports a quick vote on Mr Barroso, would have had to resort to courting the eurosceptics to be sure of winning a majority on voting day.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who was in Stockholm meeting the Swedish leader, said that Paris had always said it would not be a "disaster" if the vote took place between the 15 July and 15 September.

He added that after consultations between the Swedish presidency and the political groups in the parliament "we will be able to nominate Mr Barroso, I hope, in September."

"The party groups of the European parliament will get back to us and tell us when they have agreed on the decision they have agreed to adopt and when," said Mr Reinfeldt.

The leaders of the political groups will travel to Stockholm for discussions on the issue on Monday (6 July).

Formalising Mr Barroso's support

The expected delay is a blow to Mr Barroso who has been working the phones of MEPs to try and persuade them to come out in support of him this month.

The postponement means that other names could emerge over the summer months putting his chances of a second commission presidency into jeopardy.

For the EU as a whole, the danger is that some MEPs, sensing their power over member states on this issue, may push to postpone the vote even further, until after Ireland has voted on the EU's new set of rules, the Lisbon Treaty, in October.

This could open a whole new round of haggling on other posts and leave the Swedish EU presidency without a focussed European Commission for several months.

In order to try and keep deputies focussed on Mr Barroso, Stockholm is planning to formalise his nomination - he currently only has political backing from EU leaders.

This would neutralise a key complaint of the deputies - that they cannot discuss an informal candidate - and put the ball back in their court so, Stockholm hopes, they will agree to take a vote in September.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

Analysis

Relief in EPP group, as Orbán's party finally leaves

The debate over Fidesz had become an unbearable political burden on EPP - but it also represented a core dilemma for many centre-right, mainstream parties struggling to deal with their populist challengers.

EPP group moves forward to suspend Orban's Fidesz

MEPs are scheduled to vote on Wednesday to change the rules of procedure of the centre-right European People's Party parliamentary group to allow the suspension of a member party.

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Too soon to lift EU sanctions on Burundi, NGOs warn
  2. EU to wage economic war on Belarus dictator
  3. EU commission takes stand against Danish asylum law
  4. Air pollution in many EU cities 'stubbornly high'
  5. EU leaders discuss Turkey, Russia, migration This WEEK
  6. Pandemic exposed corruption in some EU health systems
  7. The European Court of Justice vs German Constitutional Court
  8. AstraZeneca must deliver 50m doses by September or face fines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us