Friday, 20 March 2009

When in Europe or North Korea

When in Europe, do as the North Koreans do. Or so it seems.

The heads of state or government affiliated to the European People’s Party (EPP) have unsurprisingly backed José Manuel Barroso for a second term as President of the Commission:

http://www.epp.eu/newsdetail.php?newsID=487&hoofdmenuID=5&submenuID=49&subsubmenuID=147

In the Treaty of Lisbon the leaders of the EU member states have signed up to the principle to take the results of the European elections into account when appointing the Commission President. If the EPP emerges as the largest group after the elections, we now know who the EPP affiliated heads of state or government are going to back. Fair enough.
Not everyone would agree with the reasons given by EPP President Wilfried Martens:

“Jose Manuel Barroso has a broad appeal in all the main political families and is by far the best candidate for this position taking into account his successful term as Commission President and his wide political experience at the national level.”

Is the ‘best candidate for this position’ based on Barroso being the sole candidate?

Does support among heads of state or government ─ an electoral college of 27 ─ really equal broad appeal in all the main European political families?

How successful has the first Barroso term been?

The EPP leaders in the European Council have exercised their judgment, which many see as conducive to the pre-eminence of the European Council.

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Now it should be up to the voters to respond to the choice of candidate, but here we run into the North Korean dilemma.

With the British Tories defecting from the EPP-ED group, the Socialists and Social Democrats have a fighting chance of becoming the largest group in the European Parliament, if they launch a credible candidate with pan-European appeal.

The leaders affiliated to the Party of European Socialists (PES) met ahead of the spring European Council, but again failed to endorse a PES candidate.

The European Liberal Democrats (ELDR) have also failed to launch their own candidate to head the Commission.

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375 million EU citizens eligible to vote are offered the choice of one candidate for the top spot: Nobody but Barroso.

Could there be a more damning self-indictment by the political parties at European level?

North Korea, here we come ...

Ralf Grahn