New Barroso line-up under Parliament scrutiny

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All major political groups have suggested they could back
President Barroso’s three replacement Commissioners
during Parliament hearings on 15 and 16 November.

The three new Commissioners designate Franco Frattini,
Andris Piebalgs and László Kovács will be
scrutinised before the Parliament’s committees on 15
and 16 November. A vote on the new Barroso line-up as a
whole is scheduled on 18 November in a plenary session in
Strasbourg.

All major political groups suggested they could accept
Barroso’s new line-up but have
been critical about the limited scope of the
reshuffle.

EPP-ED chief Hans-Gert Poettering said the group
regretted that the Hungarian government had not withdrawn
its candidate, László Kovács “after
the negative impression he had made at his first
hearing” in Parliament. 

The Socialist group, which led the protest against
Rocco Buttiglione, signalled its readiness to accept the
new Commission line-up. “We had four core demands.
Three of them have been met, the PES leader Martin Schulz
said earlier this month (see EURACTIV, 
8 November 2004

). The socialists’ fourth demand was the replacement
of Neelie Kroes in the Competition portfolio.

The Greens said they would vote against the proposed
new line-up. Spokesman Helmut Weixler directed the
Greens’ attacks against the Italian prime minister,
saying that any member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Italian
government would be rejected. Overall, the group was
critical about Barroso’s “minimal solution”
to the problem posed by the contested college of
Commisioners. Barroso has “clearly folded under
pressure from national governments”, said the
Greens. 

The ALDE Group was more upbeat with leader Graham
Watson saying that, with Mr Buttiglione’s departure,
the new Commission had “lost its weakest link”.
“It should have a brighter future,” said
Watson.

Italy’s foreign minister Franco Frattini will
replace the controversial Rocco Buttiglione in the
justice, freedom and security portfolio (see
EURACTIV, 
5 November 2004

). Latvia’s Andris Piebalgs was nominated for the
energy portfolio while the Hungarian László
Kovács will take the taxation and customs union
portfolio originally assigned to former Latvian nominee
Ingrida Udre.

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