Expatica news

Dutch PM backs Barroso as EC chief

30 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on Tuesday that there was “great support in Europe” for the appointment of his Portuguese counterpart, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, as the new European Commission President.

Speaking in Brussels where EU leaders agreed on Tuesday to appoint Durao Barroso as the new EC chief, the Dutch leader described the Portuguese Prime Minister as a “real European” and praised his communication skills.

Durao Barroso, 48, was appointed as a compromise candidate after different European blocs rejected several other candidates as unacceptable. He will now replace incumbent Italian Romano Prodi.

The appointment will have to be approved by the European Parliament, but Durao Barroso is expected to easily win the support of most members, BBC reported.

Balkenende said Durao Barroso has demonstrated “governmental decisiveness” in Portugal, Dutch news agency ANP reported. He also said that the nomination of a commission chief 10 days ago had proven difficult due to a lack of political will.

The prime minister also said it was important for the Netherlands that Durao Barroso had in the past supported the Dutch government on financial issues.

Opposition MPs in the Dutch Parliament reacted negatively to the appointment of Durao Barroso. Both Labour PvdA and the green-left GroenLinks said the choice of the Portuguese leader was a “colourless compromise”.

The Liberal VVD delayed making its stance known, while the Christian Democrat CDA and populist LPF backed the appointment.

Meanwhile, Balkenende said talks were not held on Tuesday night about the division of other EC portfolios and refused to confirm which portfolio the Netherlands hopes to be given or whether the government had an intended candidate.

He said the Netherlands wanted an important portfolio and someone who could achieve a lot in such a position.

On the issue of whether Germany will receive a commissioner in charge of economic reform, Balkenende said fellowship within the new commission must not be threatened.

The Netherlands and Germany have clashed in recent times over continued German breaches of the euro stability pact that obligates EU governments to maintain budget deficits under 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Dutch wish to maintain the pact, but Germany has argued that it places economic growth at risk. Germany and France escaped fines late last year, despite Dutch insistence that they should penalised for budgetary breaches.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news