“The standing of the [European] Commission vis-à-vis the other institutions has fallen during the last five years. It is vital for the European Union that this trend be reversed,” writes Stanley Crossick, founder of the European Policy Centre, in a July post on Blogactiv.
José Manuel Barroso, who on 16 September was re-elected for a second term as Commission president by the European Parliament with “an unexpectedly large majority,” was right to claim “‘reinforced authority’ after this decisive victory,” argues Crossick.
“But what does this mean and how will he use it?,” the EPC founder asks. Barroso is “likely to have considerable influence” on the appointment of commissioners.
For the composition of portfolios and their distribution, Barroso “will be under pressure, at least from the large member states, and the issue will arise when he discusses with member states their proposed commissioners,” he says.
Concerning the agenda, Crossick warns that Barroso’s “relationship with Parliament is likely to be reasonably harmonious under President Jerzy Buzek, but may become fraught if Socialist Group leader Martin Schulz takes over mid-term”.
On the issue of managing the Commission, Crossick proposes smaller cabinets “staffed with experts on the relevant portfolio, and not covering all Commission policies”.
“President Barroso’s fundamental test will be whether he takes a firm lead with member states, battling where necessary with the big ones, or whether he will continue to ensure always that they are satisfied,” he concludes.