REUTERS - European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to nominate Jose Manuel Barroso officially for a second five-year term as European Commission president to help secure his quick approval by the European Parliament.
The leaders had already given the conservative former Portuguese prime minister their political backing but their legally binding endorsement is intended to help overcome opposition in the parliament.
Any delay in confirming Barroso risks undermining him and the executive Commission, a powerful regulatory body, at a time when strong leadership is called for to steer Europe out of its worst economic crisis in decades.
“We now have a unanimous formal nomination of Jose Manuel Barroso from all the heads of state and government,” Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the EU’s presidency for the rest of this year, said in a statement.
“The Council (of EU leaders) has now taken its responsibility to finalise the election of the Commission President. Hopefully we will be able to, as soon as possible, move Europe to solve the important tasks ahead of us such as the climate and financial crisis.”
Barroso, 53, is the only candidate, but requires the backing of the parliament as well as EU governments.
The moves by the 27 EU leaders could put pressure on Barroso’s parliamentary foes to allow a vote of approval on his candidacy next week, when the assembly meets for the first time since an election last month.
His centre-right allies are the largest force in the parliament but they do not have a majority. His parliamentary foes have blocked attempts to hold the vote of approval on July 15 and put it off until September at the earliest.