EPP group hit hard by Commission withdrawal

The EPP-ED group, the biggest parliamentary group with 268
seats, refused to negotiate a Commission reshuffle and
pledged its support to Buttiglione until the end. For this
group, Barroso’s decision is a major setback.

Prior to this week’s drama in Strasbourg, Hans-Gert Pöttering,
the leader of the Christian-Democrats, the biggest political group
with 268 MEPs, had continuously pledged his full support to
Buttiglione. “As a Christian, I’m hopeful, that is part of my
personal belief, and so I’m optimistic that the European Parliament
will vote in favour of the commission next Wednesday,”  he
said on 21 October.

His misjudgement of the seriousness of the Buttiglione crisis
has led some of his fellow MEPs to strongly criticise him. The
French conservatives (UMP) say Pöttering and Barroso ignored
the problem and lacked tactics. “The hearings have shown that
commissioners from three political families caused problems: Rocco
Buttiglione (EPP), László Kovács (socialist) and Neelie Kroes
(liberal). It was easy to change them without modifying the
Commission made-up. By refusing it, Pöterring and Barroso have
managed to create a Buttiglione crisis”, Alain Lamassoure, UMP
spokesperson was quoted as saying in French daily Le Monde.

The EPP-ED group obtained the nomination of a Conservative at
the helm of the Commission and welcomed Barroso’s nomination, which
also backed by the Liberal group. With a vote on the
Commission, the EPP-ED group wanted to demonstrate its
strength as the Parliament’s biggest group.

Among the Liberal-democrats, the Commission’s withdrawal has
also created waves. Graham Watson, ALDE group leader, called on
group members to approve the Barroso Commission despite the
fact that a majority of the group was against it. He wanted to
save a Commission which included 8 liberals out of
25 Commissioners. His reaction has been contested by a
group that has made the equality of rights and parliament’s
dignity two of its top priorities. 

The Parliament’s 200 Socialists are relishing victory
after obliging Barroso to reconsider his Commission line-up. They
managed to keep unity despite calls from London and Berlin to back
the Commission. 

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