Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Barroso plays bland

José Manuel Durao Barroso is facing up to the first of his several trials. As yet he does not have to sort out the situation with the Growth and Stability Pact. That is still to come. He is simply going through the process of being vetted by the different European Parliament groups, prior to a binding full vote on his candidacy on July 22.

As this was the hostile left wing group of Socialists and Greens, he had to tread very carefully. After all, he was facing up to really profound political questions like this one from Johannes Voggenhuber, an Austrian Green, who asked:

Are you more loyal to the United States than to Europe?
Presumably, Senhõr Barroso is most loyal to Portugal, but one is not really supposed to say that during these sessions.

Instead he explained that he was in favour of deeper European integration “but this does not mean I am a federalist”.

Similarly, he thought that there should be close links between the EU and the USA and explained that as Prime Minister of Portugal, an ally of the US, he had to back the war. But he did not like American “arrogance”, and he did not like unilateralism, adding that in bilateral talks he always called for multilateralism. (All these lateralisms are very confusing. If the USA had so many allies with whom it conducted bilateral or trilateral talks, how can it be accused of being unilateral?)

Kyoto? Top priority for the new Presidency. Why? Who knows?

Turkey? Absolutely. Must get them in as soon as they fulfil all the necessary conditions.

We shall watch with interest the discussions with the Liberal Democrat group, the conservative EPP and, possibly, the newly formed stronger eurosceptic group that includes UKIP and the Danish June Movement. What, one wonders, will the President designate say to them?

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