(First April spoof) As his bid for the NATO top job proved unsuccessful, Commission President José Manuel Barroso has decided to run for an unprecedented third term as head of the EU executive, EURACTIV has learned.
Barroso has decided to run for a third term after the surprising decision that Jens Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian Prime Minister, would succeed Anders Fogh Rasmussen as Secretary General of the Atlantic alliance.
Barroso had invested a lot of effort in getting the NATO top job, with several people in his cabinet working for this goal around the clock over the last year, EURACTIV has reported [read more]. But Barroso has never discarded the possibility that he could run for a third term as Commission President, as a second option [read more].
In fact, Barroso’s “number two” Viviane Reding has openly advocated that he should stay on for an unprecedented third term.
>> Read: Reding calls for Barroso third term
Nothing in EU treaties prevents the Commission president from running for a third consecutive term, but it has never happened before.
Asked about her own ambitions, Reding, a Luxembourg politician from the centre-right EPP political family to which Barroso is also affiliated, said that she would happily serve under Barroso for another mandate.
“My personal wish would be that José Manuel stays on for a third term, because I am sure that we need continuity and stability at the helm of governments in the years to come to continue to make Europe stronger and more resilient to future crises.”
“Of course, if he then needs again a vice president, I may consider this because I like this job,” she added.
The major difficulty for having Barroso in the race for his own succession appears to be that political families have already selected candidates which will run in the European elections. The candidate of the EPP family is Jean-Claude Juncker, the long-serving Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and his main challenger is Martin Schulz, the German social-democrat who now leads the European Parliament.
The Lisbon Treaty stipulates that the European Parliament shall elect the Commission president on the basis of a proposal made by the European Council, taking into account the European elections (Article 17, Paragraph 7 of the TEU). The nominations of the political groups are expected to play a role in the decision making, but the final choice still lies with the heads of states and government.
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, who had been seen as a possible EPP candidate but was not selected as such by his own party, recently said that when EU leaders will decide, if somebody calls him, he would take the call [read more].
Another politician who hopes to become Commission President, despite the fact that he was not chosen by his political family, is Olli Rehn. The liberal Finnish politician left precedence to Guy Verhofstadt, the flamboyant Belgian former Prime Minister, to be the liberal party candidate for the race for the Commission presidency [read more].
Verhofstadt is seen as too federalist by EU heads of state and government. The European liberal political family is expected to come third at the European elections, but if the centre-left and the centre-right have a close result, the message of the voters would be that it’s the centrists who should fill the most important position in the Union. In that case, Rehn’s cances are not to be neglected, pundits say.
“Schulz and Juncker may play for the audience, but the real battle may be between Rehn and Barroso,” April Ernst, a German political analyst told this website.
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