Barroso plays for time to reshuffle his team

Barroso-Buttiglione.jpg

The vote of confidence on the Barroso Commission
has been postponed due to a lack of political support for the
new college from MEPs.

A crucial vote on the new college of
Commissioners scheduled for 27 October has been
postponed due to fears that it would have been voted
down by the 732-strong European Parliament. 

Despite heavy criticism from the
Socialists towards the Italian Commissioner Rocco
Buttiglione, Barroso refused to move him from
the justice and security portfolio until this
morning. The situation turned critical following a
decision by the Socialist group on the evening of 26
October to vote collectively against Barroso’s
team.

“I have come to the conclusion that if a vote is
taken today, the outcome will not be positive for
European institutions or for the European project,”
Barroso said to MEPs at 11am on 27
October. 

The big question now is what Barroso will now do to
appease all sides and rally overall support for his team.
Reshuffling is one possibility, as the
Socialists may be satisfied with a change of
portfolio for Mr Buttiglione and three other
commissioners. 

In the meantime, Italian sources say that Italian
premier Silvio Berlusconi has consulted his allies about
a possible replacement for the embattled commissioner,
Rocco Buttiglione. Foreign minister Franco Frattini,
former economics minister Giulio Tremonti, former
commissioner Emma Bonino and current Competition
Commissioner Mario Monti have all been touted
as possible candidates.

It is highly unlikely, however, that the
change of one commissioner would create
the overall political balance needed for a positive
vote among the MEPs. It is likely that two
to three commissioners will have to be sacrificed along
with Buttiglione. 

The Dutch Presidency will hold an emergency summit on
28 October in Rome to discuss the crisis, one
day before the EU Constitution is due to be
signed.

The assembly of the new college may take weeks or even
a month. During that time, Romano
Prodi’s Commission will remain in Brussels in a
caretaker capacity.

 

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