Jose Manuel Barroso’s formal designation by the EU’s leaders has moved talks on his future along a notch with the European Parliament.
The assembly’s political group presidents have been drawing up the agenda for the new legislature’s inaugural full sitting next week. Its outgoing president gives his view of Barroso’s bid for a second mandate. Hans-Gert Pöttering said: “The President of the European Commission will certainly seek discussions with the political groups now. Based on these talks the decision could be taken in September, I hope.” The member states’ nominee to this key post needs the Parliament’s approval — customarily voted on in July. After the usual record-breaking low turnout in the European elections, the assembly would not be rushed this time. The Greens/European Free Alliance co-president Rebecca Harms said: “I don’t think we should vote for the President of the Commission without talking about the programme with him. My group will insist on first discussing the next five-year European policy programme and retain the right to vote afterwards — or not.” The largest group in the Parliament — conservative — supports Barroso — he is currently the only candidate standing. But the second-largest – the socialist bloc – holds clear reservations. The assembly’s Socialist president Martin Schulz said: “From what I’ve seen so far, above all Mr. Barroso’s unconvincing behaviour these last three weeks — his grab for the nomination, even accepting eurosceptic and anti-European backing… doesn’t give me much hope for after the summer break.” The liberals appear split.