If Portugal’s Jose Manuel Barroso wins EU parliament approval next week for another run as European Commission president, he’ll do it with a different team. Some of the current commissioners will stay on, some will be replaced. Not all of them will get what they want. That is largely up to their home governments to decide.
One commissioner has already left to be president of Lithuania — Dalia Grybauskaite. Poland’s commissioner Danuta Hubner and Belgium’s Louis Michel have joined the European Parliament. Louis Michel is making the transition from Commissioner for Development Humanitarian Affairs. He makes a strong distinction between the executive body’s structure and workings and the parliament. Michel said: “Democracy is lived out in the European Parliament more fully than in the national parliaments. The Commission is a bit different. The Commission’s problem is very simple. A Commissioner wages perpetual combat against bureaucracy, against rules, procedures… and so one gets the impression that the whole system was set up in such a way as to neutralise the commissioners’ political engagement.” Austria has nominated external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner as a candidate for new director general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Ferrero Waldner said: “If I am responsible for UNESCO as new Director General I would give a lot of political profile and I would try to make UNESCO very visible.” The European Commission is due for change under the Lisbon Treaty, such as a transformation of the external relations portfolio to combine with a more powerful foreign affairs position. The next European Commission will be appointed in November.