The European Parliament gets down to business later today as the 736-member assembly begins a new five-year term.
The mood of MEPs is being described as combative as they attempt to deal with the worst economic crisis in decades. Top of the menu for the new intake is the election of a new president. The job looks set to go to Jerzey Buzek, Poland’s former centre-right prime minister. His rise reflects the results of June’s European elections which produced a clear victory for centre-right parties across the 27-nation bloc. The new parliament includes a number of far-right groups including the British National Party. Their two MEPs join 26 others, including the French National Front, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and the Dutch Freedom Party. In an attempt to flex its political muscle, the parliament will put off, for at least two months, a vote on the reappointment of Jose Manuel Barroso as European Commission President, despite his backing by all 27 EU member states. It is a move seen by some as a mistake as it undermines EU leadership in difficult times.