Barroso aims for new Commission line-up in less than a month


With the new Commission no longer to take office from 1
November, the EU has entered uncharted territory. While
Barroso has indicated he wants changes only
for ‘problematic’ commissioners, the precise
nature of the reshuffle remains unclear. 

Commission President Barroso has ruled
out an extensive reshuffle and has announced
the new Commission line-up will be known in less than a
month. The changes are likely to be the subject of
intensive discussions as EU heads of state and
government gather in Rome on 29 October
to sign the EU’s first Constitution in a long
awaited ceremony. The signing has now
been overshadowed by the last minute withdrawal of
Barroso’s Commission team prior to the Parliament

Pressed on the extent of changes
he is likely to make, the former
Portuguese prime minister told French radio Europe 1 :
“There will not be an extensive reshuffle. It will
be very limited, in less than a month, I hope. There will
be appropriate changes.”  He noted that he will
only make necessary changes and that these concern
less than eight people. He added that he
“cannot accept a commissioner who would have
problems with parliament. I will consult with the
governments concerned”. 

The most controversial nominee is Rocco Buttiglione,
whose conservative views on gays and women drew strong
opposition in the European Parliament. Barroso will
now turn to Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
for indications as to who is likely to replace
Buttiglione. Officially, the Italian government is
standing by its choice of Buttiglione but press reports
say that it is prepared to negotiate on his position
if the Italian commissioner was not the
only one to be singled out.

The European Parliament has also cast doubt on the
suitability of Dutch businesswoman Neelie Kroes for the
competition portfolio, former Hungarian foreign minister
László Kovács in energy, Latvia’s
Ingrida Udre as tax commissioner, Dane Mariann
Fischer Boel as agriculture commissioner and Greek
Stavros Dimas as environment commissioner. 

The Commission and Barroso’s credibility could be
severely damaged if the Buttiglione crisis were not
to be resolved quickly. New confirmation hearings would
only be held for any new commissioners put forward and
not for those who change portfolio.

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