European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's re-election vote has been delayed, probably until September, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said. Sweden currently holds holds the EU's rotating presidency.
AFP - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will have to wait until later this year to find out if he keeps his job, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on Friday.
Reinfeldt, speaking during a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Stockholm, told reporters that a decision on Barroso's re-election this month would be unlikely.
"We will not make a decision on Barroso in July, but we hope that this decision will be taken in due course."
The Swedish premier said an announcement was more likely in September after the summer break.
EU leaders agreed in June to back Barroso's bid for a new five-year term as no rival had emerged in expressing an interest in the job, leaving the former Portuguese prime minister as the sole candidate.
Yet the European Parliament must give its approval before Barroso can take up the reins of the commission once again.
The centre-right members of the parliament want to vote now on his candidacy but lack a sufficient majority to force one to be called immediately.
They will need allies from across the political spectrum if they are to give Barroso the green light before the end of the month.
But the Socialists and the Greens oppose a vote in the parliament's next sitting on July 14, while the Liberals also favour a delay.
They question whether Barroso has a credible agenda for the next five years and accuse him of reacting too slowly to the global financial crisis.
It also demonstrates the parliament's willingness not to be bullied into accepting the will of the European Council, the EU institution representing heads of state and government.
"We have to respect the independence of the European Parliament," Reinfeldt told reporters. "The key political groups have said they are not ready and they would like (to take) a decision later. We respect that."
"July 15 or September 15, it's not that important. What is important is that there be no opposition between the (European) council and the parliament," French President Sarkozy said.
The delay poses a threat to Barroso as the centre-left hopes it will provide time for a rival candidate to emerge from amongst its ranks.
Many on the left of European politics regard the Portuguese as too liberal and too Atlanticist.
Sweden had been hoping to see a swift re-election in order to have a new Commission in place as quickly as possible for its presidency and avoid creating a political vacuum.
With an unprecedented global financial crisis, the UN climate change summit in Copenhagen in December and the ongoing ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, Reinfeldt already has a number of political headaches to deal with during Sweden's six months at the helm of the EU.
"Now is not the time to look inwards and look at institutional questions," he told reporters at a press conference in Stockholm on Wednesday, in a veiled plea to lawmakers to throw their weight behind Barroso.
But with the parliament seemingly unwilling to do so, it appears his calls fell on deaf ears, leaving the Swedish presidency with a lame duck commission president for at least another two months.
Date created : 2009-07-03