Barroso approaches his big Parliament vote tomorrow

Tomorrow (Wednesday 16th) the European Parliament will vote on whether to give the Commission president José Manuel Barroso a second term. EU governments have already supported him, but some political groups in the Parliament – notably the Greens – have been rather less keen. There’s no obvious alternative candidate though….

As part of his campaign for the job, Barroso has unveiled his own five year plan (covered by Euractiv here) for the European Commission.

The plan contains some general statements about climate change and sustainability, e.g. “We need to start working now on a radical pathway to reaching a far more sustainable Europe by 2020”, but the European Environment Bureau have criticised the narrow focus of his proposals in a letter to MEPs:

‘Despite being a subject of prime concern, the EEB warns that the sustainability issue moves far beyond that of climate change.

“If consumption patterns of people in all societies in the world would be at the same level of EU consumers, we would need almost three planets to provide the resources and neutralise the resulting pollution.” Wrote John Hontelez, Secretary General of the EEB, the largest federation of European environmental NGOs; “The EU requires a more holistic resource efficiency approach.’

Barroso himself took part in what sounds like quite a heated debate with the green group, as reported by EUObserver:

They should have sold tickets to this wrestling match, and offered popcorn and hot dogs in the committee room. The standing-room-only chamber in the European Parliament was filled with reporters, MEPs, their assistants and anyone who wanted to see that rarest of Brussels events – an out-and-out political brawl.

“Look, you’re already totally against me,” Mr Barroso responded. “I don’t understand that …The Greens are amongst the most pro-European of parties and there is a convergence between us on many questions: climate change, energy, fundamental rights …But even before this discussion, you have decided: ‘Stop Barroso!'”

German MEP Rebecca Harms, the co-president of the Green group alongside Mr Cohn-Bendit, reacted: “I’m sorry to say this, but whether you are a lame duck or not, this is an opinion which is not decided in three months, but a position that the public has already taken.”

There are even – at this late stage – proposals for alternative ‘fall back’ candidates, as reported by the Economist:

WITH a deliciously malicious sense of timing, the French daily, Le Monde, has lobbed a rock into the Brussels duckpond this morning, reporting that the French prime minister François Fillon would be prepared to step in as the centre-right candidate for boss of the European Commission, if the incumbent, José Manuel Barroso, cannot pull off a necessary vote of approval in the European Parliament.

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