Parliament heading for September vote on Barroso

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The three largest political groups in the European Parliament have tentatively agreed to hold a formal vote on José Manuel Barroso’s re-appointment as head of the European Commission during their September plenary session.

The vote “will be on the agenda in September,” said Joseph Daul, leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest political group in Parliament, which is backing the former Portuguese prime minister.

The decision, due to be announced today (16 July), had been widely anticipated after the Liberals and Socialists – the other two largest political factions in Parliament – had insisted on seeing Barroso’s five-year programme first before making a decision.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the European Parliament’s Liberal group, sent a letter to Barroso yesterday, listing a series of key initiatives it wants the Portuguese to introduce in return for his group’s backing for a second five-year term at the EU executive’s helm (EURACTIV 15/07/09).

On Monday, Martin Schulz, the leader of the Socialist group, had done likewise, listing 11 “key issues” which he said “correspond to the urgent expectations of our citizens towards the European Union” (EURACTIV 14/07/09).

The former Portuguese prime minister is the only candidate for the position, and a recent ‘technical agreement’ between the EPP and the Socialists to share the Parliament presidency over the next five years suggests they are ready to support the current Commission president.

The Socialists are also eyeing key portfolios in the next European Commission and are raising the pressure on Barroso to deliver on those demands in return for their support (EURACTIV 2/07/09).

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Schulz warned that EU heads of state may have been too quick to nominate Barroso. 

“I fear that this candidate will not get a majority unless he pulls his finger out,” said Schulz.

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