Jose Manuel Barroso aborted the investiture vote for his team last month, as it looked like he was heading for a fall.
With two of the most-criticised members replaced and a third moved, he appears certain of not tripping up this time. Most MEPs in the Parliament’s three biggest groups are said to be ready to vote ‘yes’: the conservatives, Socialists and Liberals. With a margin like that, the Barroso Commission might even win more voices in favour than he did himself. Speaking for the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats, Graham Watson was optimistic for the prospects ahead. “I think on the basis of being a group which will support the new commission, but a group which is also insisting on parliament rights, insisting that the president of the Commission recognises the concept of individual responsibility of commissioners, as well as the concept of collegial responsibility, we will have a much better structured relationship with this commission than parliament has had in the past.” The Socialists still want anyone who falls down on the job to be sacked. Socialist opposition to Barroso’s first line-up forced him to withdraw it. The group’s leader, Martin Schulz, said because of that, in a way “this is our commission”. “There isn’t a European crisis; quite the contrary. The institutions are stronger than ever. A president of the Commission with commissioners who depend on the support from the likes of Le Pen, of the extreme right, are weak. A commission which gets a broader majority is reinforced. A parliament that gets what it wanted is reinforced. There are only winners here, not a crisis.” Even voices to the right, however, regretted that Barroso got neither the Netherlands nor Hungary to offer substitute candidates. He will be asked to take future parliamentary defiance into serious consideration.