The post-holiday relaunch of the European Parliament catapults the members into a pressing workload. The topics dominating the European agenda are institutional/power-oriented, concern mammoth climate talks and moral and practical questions of legal and illegal migration.
A vote on European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for a second term must be held. He has broad centre-right backing but for support from other groups will face demands at a meeting with their leaders next week. A new team of commissioners-designate will also face tough parliamentary vetting. The revamped Lisbon Treaty is being put to the people of Ireland for ratification in a second referendum on October 2. A ‘yes’ result would clear a major final obstacle to the treaty’s coming into force. Green MEPs don’t want a Barroso vote before the Irish vote. Pro-Barroso forces say EU stability requires a decision in September. The newly reformed European Commission continues preparing for the UN Climate Change conference in December. Parliamentary support for the package of already-EU-approved environmental laws gives democratic thrust. These quantify reduction in emissions, energy efficiency and renewable source targets. On immigration, the Commission, EU governments and the Parliament will also negotiate proposals on harmonizing rules and allowing more refugees to enter the bloc legally. The Commission says erratic processes by the EU in taking in the poor or war-stricken has a negative effect on the bloc’s international image, and therefore on its influence.