Commission President José Manuel Barroso will decide next year whether to run for a record third term as head of the EU executive, according to reported comments yesterday (4 April) in Vienna, where he is on an official visit.
"My mandate runs until October 2014, then I will make a decision about myself," Barroso said in response to a journalist who asked him whether he intended to run for a third term.
Nothing in EU treaties prevents the Commission president from running for a third consecutive term, but it has never happened before.
The idea that Barroso should serve a third term was first uttered by Commission Vice President Viviane Reding in an exclusive interview for EURACTIV Italy in August 2012.
>> Read: Reding: Barroso III would make Europe stronger
On that occasion, when EURACTIV asked the Commission to comment, a spokesperson, Olivier Bailly replied: “We saw Vice President Reding's nice invitation in the interview that was made by EURACTIV. I can assure you though that this is not on the President's mind, and that he is fully focused on his second term and the Commission's answers to the current economic crisis. And really, this is a non-issue for us.”
In March of this year, EURACTIV asked Barroso about his legacy and the advice he would give to the next Commission President. He replied that he is still focused on the present, but that "one year and a half is a lot of time in politics – anything can happen".
Yesterday in Vienna, Barroso reiterated his call to major European political parties to put forward a candidate for Commission president in European elections in June 2014.
"This would give the elections a European dimension. The parties could then explain what they want for Europe," the Commission president said.
The proposal that each political family present a candidate for Commission president ahead of the next European elections in 2014 is gaining ground. No decisions have yet been made but the Party of European Socialists is widely expected to nominate Martin Schulz, the current President of the European Parliament. Chances are thought high that the liberal ALDE party could again nominate Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister, and a high profile federalist.
It is less clear who the EPP could nominate. The name of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has been repeatedly mentioned, but his country is not member of the eurozone, and his English language skills may not allow him to deal with complex issues at the highest level.
EPP President Wilfried Martens has said that the next Commission president should speak “several languages”. France insists that high EU official be “bilingual”, meaning that they should have a good command of both English and French.
The post of Council President, occupied by Herman Van Rompuy, will also be up for grabs on 1 December 2014. Van Rompuy recently said he that he plans to retire from politics.
Hugo Brady, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, wrote in an op-ed published by EURACTIV that Tusk is more likely to succeed van Rompuy than Barroso. Brady considered several potential Commission Presidents, but not the possibility of a Barroso third term.