The European Council giveth and the European Council taketh away?
Yes, I have to admit that I find the antics of the European Council disturbing. The media have reported that José Manuel Barroso has been nominated as the intended President of the Commission, but read the Presidency Conclusions carefully:
European Council 18 to 19 June 2009 – Presidency Conclusions (Council document 11225/09 CONCL 2)
“Nomination of the President of the Commission
6. The Heads of State or Government agreed unanimously on the name of Mr. José Manuel DURÃO BARROSO as the person they intend to nominate as President of the European Commission for the period 2009-2014.
7. The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and the Prime Minister of Sweden, as the present and the incoming Presidents of the European Council, will have discussions with the European Parliament in order to determine whether the Parliament is in a position to approve that nomination at its July plenary session.
8. In the light of these discussions, the Council, in the composition of Heads of State or Government, will, on the basis of Article 214(2), 1st subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, formalise its decision on the nomination of the person it intends to appoint as President of the Commission.
9. The process of nomination of the other persons who will be appointed as members of the Commission can only be initiated when the legal basis for the nomination procedure has become clear.”
Point 6 tells the same story as the media reports, but point 8 of the Presidency Conclusions makes the nomination conditional. There will be a formal nomination only at a later date.
How can the European Parliament (and the newly elected EP convenes and constitutes the political groups only on 14 July 2009) respond formally to an informal inquiry?
Are the heads of state or government going to formalise their nomination before the EP’s inaugural session, if the informal discussions with the EP indicate that a majority would be prepared to back Barroso?
Has the European Council scored an own goal, by being too clever by half? If not, what does it expect to gain during the coming three weeks?