EU leaders at the Council of Ministers summit in Brussels have given unanimous political backing for José Manuel Barroso to become president of the European Commission for a second time, putting an end to months of speculation about his candidacy.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer, representative of the Czech Republic as holder of the rotating presidency of the EU, said there was "broad and unanimous support" for the centre-right Portuguese politician, who presented some of his plans for his second mandate during a dinner with EU leaders on Thursday on 18 June.
Responding to vociferous complaints received from left-wing and green deputies in the European Parliament in the run-up to the summit, Barroso said he was "used to being criticised".
But he also pledged to avoid creating a right wing-oriented commission. "Europe has to be a cross-party project", he said. "It has to be political but not too partisan".
Fischer said he would begin consultations with political leaders in the European Parliament during the week commencing 22 June, but urged that the nomination of Mr Barroso should "take as little time as possible".
For their part, the group leaders in the parliament will vote on 9 July to determine whether the Barroso decision should be put on the agenda of the first plenary session of the newly-elected parliament in mid-July.
The support in parliament will be conditional on the sort of policy agenda Mr Barroso intends to have over the coming five years – the Party of European Socialists, as the second-largest faction in the EU assembly, want guarantees on what they see as an approach that is too biased towards business and industry.
If he is approved by the EP in July, he will become the "Commission President-designate".
The remainder of his team would be nominated in autumn after Ireland's second vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Barroso would be formally sworn in as Commission President only when he and his whole team are approved by the Parliament in late autumn.
19 June 2009