The leader of the Liberal group Guy Verhofstadt told EURACTIV that today’s (9 July) decision by EU heads of state and government to officially back José Manuel Barroso for a second term as Commission president “doesn’t change anything”.
Speaking after the Council’s announcement that EU leaders had made official their support for Barroso by written procedure, Verhofstadt made it plain that no decision will be taken by the Parliament before the autumn.
Barroso will still have to present his programme and make it public, Verhostadt said, adding that the Commission president cannot go to the Socialist group and say that his priority is employment, and then go to the Greens and tell them his priority is environment.
Neil Corlett, spokesperson for the ALDE group, also said that Barroso would have to publish his programme, and then come to Parliament to meet the political groups on 8-9 September, just before the September plenary. Then the groups will decide whether to back him or not. According to this scenario, Barroso would probably make a statement in plenary on 15 September.
Next week in Strasbourg, the ALDE group will adopt a memorandum on what they believe should be addressed by the Commission in the next five years, in particular regarding the world economic crisis, and then send it to Barroso with a letter specifying their concrete requests, which the Liberals hope he would take on board, Corlett said.
Barroso’s public programme is expected to be published within the next few weeks. Once this is done, the ALDE group will invite him to discuss his priorities and the group’s priorities, possibly on 9 September. Then, the Liberals will decide whether to back him either immediately after hearing him, or they will take a decision at the Strasbourg session, staring on 14 September.
This will happen “if he still is the only candidate,” Corlett added, stressing that there could be another candidate by then. But he insisted that at this stage he had received no indication that there would be another contender for the top Commission job.