Wednesday 10 June 2009

Make Guy Verhofstadt the next European Commission president!

Via Stephen and EurActiv I became aware of the fact that discussions about replacing Barroso with Guy Verhofstadt are remaining alive, even after the EPP victory at the recent EP elections.

To make things clear: Guy Verhofstadt would by far be a better Commission President than Barroso!

First, he has more profile as a convinced European than Barroso, having proposed the creation of the United States of Europe and having been endorsed by European federalists.

And second, he has made himself a name in Europe as the leader of his country, as a visible statesman who is more than just a compromise candidate as Barroso was when proposed in 2004 and which he remains until today.

We need a person that can inspire Europe, a person that has the personality to stand against the overly powerful, intransparent Council, a convinced European who is electable but more than just a political trade-off.

As a member of ELDR/ALDE and if supported by the PES and the Greens, he would have a stronger voter basis than Barroso who is only endorsed by the EPP. The question will be how the many others on the far left (GUE/NGL), on the right (e.g. the newly formed group around the British Tories) and the many so far unaligned will behave.

This is pretty unclear by now, and I can only hope that somehow there will be a coalition of the Europeans willing to make a step to the front after these elections have been two steps backwards.

So I don't see yet that Verhofstadt will get a majority but it would be more than desirable to make him replace the unbearable José Manuel Barroso!

Update: Just saw that Jon also published an article on this topic some minutes ago.


Macarena Rodriguez said...

In a Spanish newspaper it raises up another idea: What about Felipe Gonzalez under proposal of Sarkozy? I was surprise of the fact could be a proposal of Sarkozy, but why not? Does he want?
Thinking better, I think the proposal was doing with regard to the Treaty of Lisbon, to choose a new president. But why not as well? :)

Stephen Spillane said...

While Verhofstadt is a good candidate im not so sure he has the full backing of the ALDE as Watson wants the EP Presidency which he cant have if Verhofstadt is EC President.

I wonder how it will play out within the ALDE grouping let alone the wider Parliament.

It finally gets interesting is all I say!

Julien Frisch said...

If there is a realistic majority for Verhofstadt as EC president, then Watson will for sure draw back.

The question will be if and when this point can be reached...

Stephen said...

He will have to I suppose! ALDE have no hope of holding either. I wouldnt mind seeing Verhofstadt as Commission President.

I think they are short about 100 votes in the EP on a combined Greens/PES/ALDE. If they can get Left on bored its about 70 short. It they can get backing from one other group or an assortment of Non-inscrits MEPs they could have it!

PS thanks for the link. Didnt see it the first time I read the article!

Eurocentric said...

I can't see him getting it on the numbers - most of the NIs are too extreme to back him, and such a large coalition would be hard to maintain - especially if the majority in the Council holds long enough so the EPP/Barroso can draw the liberals off with some good Commission posts.

But if there is a more open contest in the EP and the media get wind of it, it would be good for the image of the EP (as having influence).

filip said...

The new conservative group will certainly not support a federalist like Verhofstadt.

Let's assume the PES, Greens/EFA, ALDE and GUE/NGL all pledge to vote down Barroso and only accept Verhofstadt (which would be a very bold move by PES after their bad election result). Even in this unlikely event, they still don't have a majority.

And allmost all non-aligned are right-wing and/or eurosceptic. They'd certainly rather have Barroso than Verhofstadt.

Barroso will be reelected, let's face it. It was clear from the moment the PES failed to present a candidate.

Julien Frisch said...

The question is: Will the conservatives support Barroso? I am sure that they prefer him over Verhofstadt, but will it be enough to make them vote for José Manuel.

So will Barroso get the majority needed - or will we see a very interesting bargaining process...?

Blaat said...

I hope he gets the job. I've seen him on TV several times and not only did he gave some interesting insight about the inner workings of the EU Council but he also has plans on how to handle the economic crisis on an European level.

So last week I voted for the local ALDE party to support him, indirectly mind you as that is the best I could to do with the fractured elections.

Sadly enough I don't think he will get the job. Britain will never back him because he's too *ahem* European. Nor do I think the EPP will support Verhofstadt over Barroso unless Barraso screws up and alienates himself from the the EPP bloc within the month or so. :p

Antal Dániel said...

I think it would be odd to have Verhofstadt as Commission president since his views are only supported by a very small fraction of European citizens, he comes from a small party group, and he would have to work with a lot of EPP prime ministers. A good way to cause a deadlock for the coming years and make the Commission look like an NGO.

Julien Frisch said...

It is not untypical that a candidate from a smaller political group is leading a coalition of more than two partners, if this group is politically between the other partners, so that it could form a compromise position.

And in the end, if he would get a majority in the EP - which I doubt seeing its present composition - he would represent a majority of European voters, because this is the idea of a parliamentary majority.

Gareth said...

It's clear from the record low voter turn-out of these elections that something has to change. Maybe fresh leadership is just what the EU needs?