Schroeder warns of falloutas EU backs off on vote

27th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

27 October 2004, BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed regret on Wednesday over postponing of a key European Parliament vote on the incoming EU Commission and warned against allowing discord to escalate into institutional conflict. Schroeder said he hoped there would not be a lengthy delay in voting on the Commission - which was supposed to take office on 1 November. "We don't need an institutional conflict - what we need is a strong Commission capable of carrying out its work," said Schro

27 October 2004

BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed regret on Wednesday over postponing of a key European Parliament vote on the incoming EU Commission and warned against allowing discord to escalate into institutional conflict.

Schroeder said he hoped there would not be a lengthy delay in voting on the Commission - which was supposed to take office on 1 November.

"We don't need an institutional conflict - what we need is a strong Commission capable of carrying out its work," said Schroeder.

Incoming European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday asked for a delay in the parliamentary vote set for later in the day.

"I have come to the conclusion that if a vote is taken today, the outcome will not be positive for European institutions," Barroso told the European Parliament.

The European Parliament must approve Barroso's full 25-member Commission.

Postponement of the vote saves Barroso from the humiliation of having his future Commission line-up officially rejected by a majority of the European Parliament's 732 members.

But it also plunges the 25-nation European Union into an unprecedented institutional crisis only days before the signature of the bloc's constitution in Rome and ahead of next week's US presidential elections.

It also heralds the start of a new era of EU power politics, with an increasingly confident European Parliament ready to flex its muscles in the face of pressure from the Commission and EU leaders.

Barroso's climbdown in the face of parliamentary pressure came after weeks of uncertainty, last-ditch compromises and eleventh-hour negotiations.

In the end, however, the former Portuguese premier admitted defeat.

"I have come to the conclusion that if a vote is taken today, the outcome will not be positive for European institutions," Barroso told the European Parliament just before the assembly was set to cast a make-or-break vote on Barroso's new Commission.

"In these circumstances I have decided not to submit a new Commission for your approval today," Barroso said.

The Commission president-designate said he needed more time to look at the issue and to consult EU governments so that "we can have strong support for the new Commission."

Barroso's move means that outgoing European Commission President Romano Prodi will stay on as caretaker head of the bloc's powerful executive.

The Dutch government, currently in charge of the EU presidency, said Prodi would remain in Brussels for "as long as necessary."

"We understand the situation," Atzo Nicolai, Dutch minister for European affairs told the European Parliament.

Prodi's mandate will be temporarily extended beyond his previously planned departure for Italy on 1 November.

Much of the Parliament's fury has been directed at Barroso's decision to name ultra-conservative Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione as the bloc's future justice affairs chief.

Buttiglione caused outrage among members of the European Parliament's left and centre-left lawmakers by describing homosexuality as a sin and denouncing single mothers.

Critics said his views made him unsuitable as commissioner responsible for human rights and civil liberties in the EU.

But deciding to play hard ball, Barroso refused persistent parliamentary demands that Buttiglione be moved to a less sensitive job.

EU leaders meeting in Rome on Thursday and Friday to sign a new constitutional treaty are expected to spend most of their time mulling over the implications of the crisis.

Almost all 200 Socialists in the 732-seat legislature and at least 50 Liberals were expected to vote against Barroso's team if the ballot was held as scheduled on Wednesday.

Communists and greens also said they would veto the new Commission.

But there are no clear rules on how to proceed. "We are exploring virgin territory," said Parliament President Josep Borrel.

The EU assembly lacks the power to reject individual nominees, and can only vote to accept or reject the entire 25-member commission.

Barroso himself won parliamentary approval in July, a month after he was selected to head the E.U. executive by the bloc's 25 leaders.

But unlike other presidents, Barroso does not have the power to name his own cabinet.  Commissioners are appointed by national governments and the Commission chief can only assign portfolios to each individual.

DPA

Subject: German news 

 

 

 

DPA

Subject: German news

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