Jose Manuel Barroso sooner or later? Some European Union countries want to delay formally naming him to continue as President of the European Commission until the Lisbon treaty goes into force.
This Thursday and Friday’s summit will concentrate on several interrelated themes. One of these is legal guarantees to allay Irish concerns about the Lisbon Treaty. Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s government would then lead Ireland to a second referendum on Lisbon within three or four months. To boost odds the voters do not reject the treaty as they did one year ago, they want to know they will keep various decision-making powers. These would have a bearing in matters of taxation, abortion and military neutrality. Continuing to have a representative in the European Commission is another must. Why wait to nominate Barroso formally for a second term? (He is the only one standing.) It is partly because the structure of the new Commission and the ratification process for the president are different under the Lisbon Treaty rules. So, at the summit he might just get a political statement saying he has the EU leaders’ confidence. The leaders will also discuss reforming financial regulations. With the state the global economy is in, the EU leaders are expected to demand quick progress on this, including work on new supervising authorities. Yet analyst Karel Lannoo points to reservations from financial powerhouse Britain: “One of the things that the Brits eventually don’t want to have is what the Commission may be proposing now… that there will be this European supervising authority, and the delegate of the European supervising authority may be (in a position to) decide on an issue where the national delegations do not find an agreement.” Action on this coincides with President Obama’s regulatory reform plans targeting weaknesses in the US financial system.