European Commission : Two Years of the Barroso Commission as Seen by Parliament

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On 18 November 2004, the European Parliament voted in plenary on the investiture of the European Commission led by centre-right former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Barroso. The first 25-member College was approved by 449 votes to 149 with 82 abstentions. With the Commission due to publish a memorandum on what it has achieved during the first two years of its five-year mandate shortly, Europolitics has been looking at how its relations with Parliament have changed over this period. Whilst criticism from MEPs varies according to their political leanings, one positive element is nevertheless apparent: greater inter-institutional cooperation.

The EPP-ED group is on very good terms with Barroso.The Commission President is a member of the Portuguese PSD, itself affiliated to the European People's Party. These relations awill be further strengthened in January 2007 with the appointment at the head of the European Parliament of Hans-Gert Pottering, the EPP-ED's current President. According to sources close to Pottering, "the EPP-ED is increasingly supportive of the Barroso Commission since it selects priorities and does not seek to multiply technical details", as demonstrated by its latest work programme. Asked about this "anniversary", Martin Schulz, President of the Socialist group in the European Parliament, by contrast responded: "Happy birthday, but I wasn't aware there was any reason to celebrate!". The PES would like to see more energy on the part of the Commission, notably following the rejection of the Constitution in two national referendums. There have been "attempts to push through unilateral legislative projects" (the services and port services directives) which have finally been entirely reviewed or rejected. The Commission has also failed to define athe notorious "European social model" identified as a priority of the Lisbon strategy. The PES is also concerned at the evolution of this Commission which, after 1 January 2007, will have 27 members but barely six Socialists.

ALDE President Graham Watson suggests the Barroso Commission has had a tough start due to problems surrounding the Constitution. …