European Parliament to vote on Barroso

The European Parliament agreed on Thursday to vote next week on José Manuel Barroso’s bid for a second term as European Commission president, despite misgivings from several parties about his
handling of issues such as climate change and the global financial crisis.

Barroso, the ex-Portuguese prime minister, was the only candidate to put his name forward and has the unanimous backing of EU leaders. But the September 16 confirmation vote will come two months after the legislature snubbed a request of EU governments to fast track Barroso’s confirmation because of misgivings over his candidacy.

During hearings on Wednesday, Barroso faced a barrage of critical questions from Socialists, Liberals and Green lawmakers.

Socialists and Greens say Barroso, who has headed up the 27-member EU executive since 2004, has done little to combat global warming, address the financial crisis and protect European
manufacturing jobs.

Socialist group leader Martin Schulz said he would ask his 184-strong group to abstain in the vote in Strasbourg, France.

“One thing is clear, there will be no vote in favour of Mr Barroso,” from my group, Schulz said.

Despite hesitations from Socialists and outright opposition from Greens and anti-European lawmakers, Barroso is likely to get a majority of votes in the 736-seat Parliament.

Barroso, a conservative, already is assured of backing from the centre-right European People’s Party, which controls 265 votes. He also is expected to get 84 votes from the Liberals. With the
support of the British Conservatives, whose 25 members sit as independents, Barroso should reach the 369 majority vote needed.

The European Parliament has to approve Barroso before he can take up his second term in November.

Barroso remains under pressure to offer concessions, despite the unanimous backing of EU leaders and a majority of EU lawmakers.

He told lawmakers on Wednesday he would create a new post that would deal specifically with boosting civil liberty issues among rising concerns over privacy and anti-terror security measures.

Socialists are also demanding Barroso concentrate more on job creation, rather than pushing EU governments to open up more their
services markets to competition.

Barroso ran into problems five years ago when he went for the post. A cross-party majority of lawmakers forced him to alter his team because of comments made by its Italian nominee, Rocco
Buttiglione, about homosexuality and women.

Barroso postponed the vote and persuaded Italy to replace its man with another candidate, Franco Frattini, Italy’s current foreign minister. - Sapa-AP

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