Finally, the end of the tunnel for José Manuel Barroso who has been elected as Commission President with 382 positive votes out of 736. Many protested, many were unenthusiastic, but finally an absolute majority raised their hands and said ‘yes’.
That was not such an obvious prediction this morning and The Lobby did not expect such a ‘comfortable’ majority – maybe Barroso didn’t either!
Throughout the campaign, the Commission President appeared to be on the defensive, and instead of giving a convincing demonstration that he was a candidate with a vision for Europe, he rather gave the impression that he was soliciting a personal favour from MEPs. As he said himself yesterday in a bid to convince sceptical MEPs: “at least, give me the benefit of the doubt!”
Anyway, the deal is done now and Barroso can serenely look ahead and dedicate his energy to address the most urgent challenges he agreed to set for himself: combating unemployment and the crisis, strengthening the internal market, re-branding and re-launching the Lisbon Strategy, and restoring the authority of the Commission that has been seriously challenged during the crisis with regard to Member States’ public deficit, European competition rules and state aid policy.
Barroso will also have to look closely into ways to correct the EU’s identity and credibility deficit. Looking back at his previous mandate and his recent campaign, The Lobby doubts that the new President has the vision and sufficient public confidence to really perform in that respect. Again, it will probably be up to the Member States to decide whether the EU is a good or a bad thing for their citizens.
But we’ll give Barroso the benefit of the doubt. For the time being.