While most observers still expect a compromise between incoming Commission president Barroso and those groups in the EP which threatened to block his entire team over the Buttiglione row – Mr Barroso will meet with leading MEPs tomorrow -, according to EUPolitix.com’s press review, the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita reports that Rocco Buttiglione may “resign” today and be “replaced by Italy?s highly regarded foreign minister Franco Frattini.”
Update from EUPolitix:
Further pressure on Barroso to reshuffle his team came on Wednesday afternoon from parliament?s Greens who said Buttiglione was ?unacceptable? as a commissioner. One solution doing the rounds in parliament?s corridors late on Wednesday is for a three way swap of portfolios between the Italian, Dutch and French commissioners-designates. Buttiglione would take over the transport portfolio, Neelie Kroes would move to justice and Jacques Barrot would take on the competition dossier.
Update: After meeting with leading MEPs incoming commission president Barroso decided to take a chance with an unchanged commission line-up, including Mr Buttiglione. Without an apology, the latter once again regretted his comments that will now lead to a stand-off with the European Parliament on October 27. Even though Mr Barroso’s commission has backing from the center-right European People’s Party, Josep Borrell, the Parliament’s president said that with Socialist, Green and Liberal Parliamentary groups opposed it’s far from certain that Mr Barroso will win the vote. Given the institutional problems involved – as well as Mr Barroso’s offer to set up a cross-departmental working group on human rights – the latter Parliamentary parties haven’t ruled out voting for it yet – but remain highly critical. More here.
For an inside perspective and some interesting proposals with respect to the Commission hearings, turn to the Labour MEP Catherine Stihler’s account in the latest issue of “The Parliament Magazin” (.pdf). She proposes
that instead of member states nominating just one person, that each member state nominates three possible candidates, one of whom would be chosen. This would avoid the feeling that the candidacies are ?done deals?. In fact not only would the commission candidates have to compete if they wanted the job – and let?s face it the job is well paid and highly responsible – it would also mean that Parliament would have to take the process far more seriously. If the commissioner hearing process is to be meaningful we need to have a new approach. Our job as MEPs is to hold the commission to account. This is seriously flawed if we cannot select the best people for the right job.
By the way, Ms Stihler also has a blog.