By Martin Banks - 16th September 2009
Most of my constituents will think Barroso is a trendy new wine bar somewhere
José Manuel Barroso has been reappointed as commission president for a second five-year term.
Parliament had the power to approve or reject, his appointment whereupon member states would have had to find another candidate. In the event MEPs in Strasbourg gave the former Portuguese PM a clear majority for another term in office.
They voted 382 voted in favour, 219 against with 117 abstentions.
The support of both the ALDE and ECR groups was vital as many Socialist and Green MEPs opposed another Barroso-led commission. However, the absence of any credible alternative candidate had made his reappointment inevitable.
Parliament's president Jerzy Buzek said, "This is the right result for Europe. I warmly congratulate Barroso on his re-election.The result is a victory for European democracy and for parliament. We need strong stable institutions that can work in the interests of our citizens.
"We are no longer in a political vacuum and Barroso can start to build on his detailed programme and construct his team of commissioners. Parliament has shown that it has teeth. The president for the first time presented me with his written 'political guidelines'. I welcome this as and trust it will be repeated. This represents a new dawn for relations between parliament and commission."
EPP leader Joseph Daul said, "This is a triumph for the EPP. It is also a sign of stability and strength for Europe, essential in this period of economic and social crisis."
He added, "This result makes sense as Barroso was the candidate of the political family which won the European elections - the EPP. This election is good for Europe as Barroso is a man of extensive experience and has the full trust of 27 European heads of state and government of all political persuasions."
ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt said, "I now wait to see a strong college of commissioners put in place and a clear and concrete work programme that includes the commitments made during the hearings in parliament prior to the vote.
"Today's majority behind Barroso is sufficient to give him a strong mandate to lead the EU in the difficult months ahead."
"We now expect the newly elected president to live up to his promises to us and be a strong, bold and energetic president who is closely in tune with public opinion, independent of member states' pressure and proactive in seeking common European action where it is so clearly necessary."
"In particular we reiterate the need to come forward with an integrated economic recovery strategy that will prevent Europe slipping into a prolonged recession, a European plan to clean up the banks and an ambitious and united position on climate change ahead of the talks in Copenhagen at the end of the year."
"ALDE also recalls Barroso's commitment to a commissioner for fundamental rights, a review of the structure of financial supervision within three years and a determined effort to establish a sustainable system of own financial resources for the EU budget for the period after 2013."
He added that "ALDE group support is conditional upon delivery of the points that Barroso promised which should figure later this year in the detailed commission work programme."
Further reaction came from Michal Kaminski, leader of the ECR group, who said, "While he is not perfect and we do not agree on everything, I am confident that parliament has elected the right person for the job.
"Barroso has been elected as a centre-right president of the commission and he must deliver a centre-right agenda in the EU.
"The scheming and manoeuvring by the socialist group in parliament has shown their true colours.
"Whilst the centre-right has put its differences aside and chosen the man who we think can deliver leadership for the EU at this difficult time, the socialists have played party political games. If the socialists had their way, the EU would have a political vacuum.
"Barroso has won an absolute majority so there can be no claims that he lacks legitimacy. Such an overwhelming endorsement shows that the centre-right is seriously in the driving seat in the EU.
"We will continue to oppose Barroso's agenda to integrate Europe politically. However we will support him in his efforts to reform the EU to make it more accountable and to open up our markets both within the EU and to the outside world."
S&D leader Martin Schulz, whose group abstained with the aim of forcing key policy concessions later this year, described Barroso as "the weakest president in the history of the EU" after the narrow vote.
He said Barroso had to rely on Eurosceptics to obtain only 13 votes over the qualified majority that would be required by the Lisbon treaty. He obtained fewer votes than five years ago.
He said, "Barroso will have many sleepless nights ahead of him, for his support within parliament is extremely fragile. He now needs parliament to approve his college of commissioners and his work programme. Votes on future legislation will be tight - and he faces many defeats.
"The EU cannot make progress without the S&D Group. We demand a new direction for Europe and a new emphasis on strong social policy among pre-conditions for our support.
"Barroso is today in a weaker position than any of his predecessors -- the weakest commission president in the history of the EU. His reliance on the votes of the Eurosceptics, who oppose everything he stands for, makes him weaker still and brings shame upon him."
Scottish Nationalist MEP Alyn Smith said, "This was a pretty lukewarm endorsement given Barroso has had five years already to prove his mettle. I appreciate that most of my constituents will think Barroso is a trendy new wine bar somewhere but parliament's approval of his appointment is important because this is the man who will set the portfolios of the other commissioners as each member state appoints them.
"However, Barroso was duly approved in a secret ballot and I wish him well. I voted against, on the grounds that Barroso has continued in his five years with the confusing rhetoric about what the EU, and the commission in particular, is actually for. I see the EU as a gathering of states acting together, not, as I suspect Barroso sees it, as an entity in its own right with the states mere hindrances to the integration project.
"His comments in particular on the referendums in France and Ireland, saying that the people made the wrong decision was particularly unforgivable. In a democracy the result is the result, and is by definition the correct one, like it or not. Barroso showed a considerable disrespect to the voters of Ireland then and has continued since."
Smith added, "His continued advocacy of the Lisbon treaty is something I find personally inappropriate for the man who is, at the end of the day, the head of the EU civil service, not an elected politician."
Glenis Willmott, UK Labour leader in parliament said, "Barroso got the support of just over half of the MEPs. Therefore, if he truly wants a coalition or broad support he needs to work with us to resolve some of the issues we have raised."
"He has promised an end to social dumping and a review of the Posted Workers Directive to ensure equal rights and pay for the same work. We want action to create employment, new and better jobs, and to fight mass unemployment - especially youth unemployment. Barroso will need to deliver on these important issues."
More reaction came from Lothar Bisky, leader of GUE/NGL, who said, "Our group cannot agree with Barroso's political vision.
He added, "The left in Europe demands a re-orientation of EU policies towards a social, peaceful and democratic EU. Barroso has not given any satisfactory answers to our questions and he represents a continuation of the policies that lead to the current crisis. For all these reasons our group has voted against the candidate put forward by the member state governments."
UK deputy Fiona Hall, leader of the UK Liberal Democrat MEPs, said,
"I congratulate him on his decisive victory. Barroso's re-election brings the institutional uncertainty to an end.
"Liberal Democrats now look to him for the strong leadership that Europe needs. Barroso has much to do on the economy, human rights, and ensuring that Europe takes a tough line at the Copenhagen climate change conference in December. We intend to ensure that he lives up to the commitments that he made in the run-up to his win today."