Romano Prodi is in Rome for this Friday’s ceremonial signing of the European Constitution by the heads of state and government, but he still has a foot in Brussels. The outgoing European Commission President’s whole team are having their contracts extended to the end of the year.
Prodi’s replacement Jose Manuel Barroso decided not to submit the new college for an approval vote on Wednesday because the EU parliament would probably have rejected it. Barroso is seeking consensus for a revamp which he says will probably involve around ten of the 25-member team. The constitutional treaty is supposed to make EU decision-making easier; In Strasbourg, European Parliament president Josep Borrell was asked his opinion of the impact the Commission setback might have on the constitution. “First of all, it mustn’t be seen as a crisis or a confrontation between the two institutions. What happened will help get Europeans interested in the building of their EU political system. It will get their attention and lead more of them to take part in the referendums on it and in the next elections,” said Borrell. The parliament, which used to be seen as a paper tiger, is enjoying its new stature, having won the standoff over controversial nominees for the EU executive. As the leaders gather to sign the bloc’s historic charter, Barroso will be lobbying them to accept name or job changes for their designates.