Euractiv reports that according to a source in the group of the Alliance for the Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament has said that if Bulgarian commissioner designate Rumiana Jeleva were to seem problematic following the hearings, a decision would be taken to postpone the vote on the whole Barroso II team, scheduled for 26 January. Instead of risking voting out the entire EU executive over one candidate, changes would be made, the source said.
The spokesman of the European People’s Party, Antoine Ripoll, says that “the policy of the new [Bulgarian] government against corruption is pretty drastic (…) this creates reactions, and one should seek there the explanations for those attacks.”
The German “Die Welt” says that that the current Bulgarian Foreign Minister and commissioner designate, Rumiana Jeleva, has made a staggering career but describes her husband as a member of the mafia.
Mrs. Jeleva says that she will sue the newspaper for libel.
In any case the image of Bulgaria will be tarnished even further.
FT reports that there’s still no consensus on the election of the first President of the European Council. The newspaper says that the Swedish presidency is positioning Herman Van Rompuy as the leading candidate, but the difficulty remains to find a suitable candidate for the post of High Representative on the Foreign and Security Policy.
The foreign affair spokesman of the British Conservative party has warned European ambassadors privately that backing Tony Blair as President of the European Council would be a “mistake” that would set back relations if the party came to government.
This is odd and unusual, to say the least. It also gives me an explanation for the fact that that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had expressed concern last week during her visit to Europe over David Cameron’s increasingly combative stance toward the EU (check Gulf Stream Blues for the whole story).
Silent winner – the other candidates. FP has a list, but there are inaccuracies, as Kospmopolito has pointed out. One candidate is missing – Mary Robinson; though this name will give some Americans the creeps.
Bulgarian foreign minister Rumiana Jeleva is the Bulgarian candidacy for commissioner at the European Commission. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced that the Bulgarian government is negotiating for the energy portfolio in the next Commission. This also means that the current Bulgarian commissioner, Meglena Kuneva, will probably not be appointed in the next Commission college.
However, sources in the European Commission cited by Dnevnik and novinite.com say that Bulgaria is not an example of success in the energy sector, the Bulgarian nominee lacks any experience in energy issues, the current Energy Commissioner, Andris Peilbags, is likely to keep the post and if not, other countries such as France, the Netherlands, and Poland are also lobbying for the position.
This leaves open the question what portfolio is available for Mrs. Jeleva at the moment. Diplomatic sources have criticized the approach of announcing in advance candidacies and possible portfolios.
As Ole Ryborg recently pointed out, the Brussels power play is a lot more sophisticated than it looks from the outside. A lot is needed to convince other Member States and the Commission President in the value of a candidacy to the portfolio in question. We should also keep in mind that approval hearings at the European Parliament have become quite demanding lately. The Treaty of Lisbon is having its impact on the negotiations, too.
Posted in Bulgaria, EU Reform, Institutional Affairs
Tagged Bulgaria, candidate, Energy, Enlargement, European Commission, innovations, Meglena Kuneva, portfolio, Rumiana Jeleva, Treaty of Lisbon
The European Parliament has approved the candidacy of Jose Manuel Barroso for President of the European Commission. 382 MEPs voted for, 219 against, and 117 sustained. There were minor technical difficulties with the voting equipment before the vote.
The debate on 15 September revealed strong divisions among MEPs about the Barroso candidature (you can see the video here). Mr. Barroso answered critics by saying:
“If you want a strong Commission, that has the rights and initiative to defend the European interest, at least give me the benefit of the doubt.”
The leader of the Socialist and Democrats group, Martin Schulz, responded that:
“He[Mr. Barroso] is an excellent advocate for the interests of the Council.”
The main argument, it appears, remains the independence of the Commission itself. Now Mr. Barroso has a new mandate to disprove such allegations.
We now have a document called “Political guidelines for the next Commission” by Jose Manuel Barroso. It is basically a political program for the next mandate of the Commission, provided that Mr. Barroso is elected President.
This is an obvious precedent. The current composition of the European Parliament has necessitated this development. So for the first time we have a preliminary political agenda for the next European Commission that attempts to convince political groups in the European Parliament.
The document is more ambitious, however. It provides “a vision for EU 2020”. The main priorities for 2020 are:
- Making a successful exit from the crisis
- Leading on climate change
- Boosting the new sources of growth and social cohesion
- Advancing people’s Europe
- Opening a new Era for Global Europe.
There are many critical voices towards the content of the document (see here, here and here). From my perspective the important question is whether Mr. Barroso should have provided such a document in the first place – Ole Ryborg claims that he souldn’t, and so does the Swedish EU Affairs Minister Cecilia Malmström. They both think that involving the European Parliament in the drafting of the Work Program, of the Commission is a breach of the independence of the institutions of the European Union. On the other hand the Commission does indeed depend politically on the European Parliament (see the motion of censure procedure).
I personally am quite upset by the lack of discussion over the possible entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. This is wrong.
In any case it may be arguable that the European Parliament should not meddle with the political program of the Commission President. At the same time the European Parliament is not obliged to approve a nomination (albeit unanimous) for Commission President. It is a right of the Parliament to approve or reject a candidature, and no rule of procedure compels it to rubber stamp the Council nomination.
For me this is an issue of principle, and any attempts to predetermine that vote are worrying.
Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, has called for a vote on the candidacy of Jose Manuel Barroso for President of the European Commission in September. Mr. Buzek says the best date is 16 September.
The leader of the Liberals in EP, Mr. Guy Verhofstadt, outlines three scenarios for the vote – approval, outright rejection, or delay of approval. Mr. Verhofstadt acknowledges that a rejection of Mr. Barroso’s candidacy can affect the results of the Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon.
Posted in EU Reform, Institutional Affairs
Tagged candidate, European Commission, European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, Ireland, Jerzy Buzek, Jose Manuel Barroso, President, second referendum, Treaty of Lisbon
A lot of sources comment on the public support of the UK government on the candidacy of Tony Blair for President of the European Union (provided that the Treaty of Lisbon enters into force, of course).
As FP Passport reminds, another strong candidate may be Felipe Gonzalez.