Richard North, 08/07/2004  

Where were we? Oh yes, the Portuguese Prime Minister Durao Barroso was chosen by the EU leaders to succeed Romano Prodi and resigned as Portugal’s Prime Minister. His successor as the leader of the conservative Social Democrat party, Pedro Santana Lopes, has had talks with the President and has promised stability for the country. He is tipped to become the next Portuguese Prime Minister.

Durao Barroso is due to face the European Parliament on July 22 (by which time the political groupings will all have to be worked out) and the Socialist Group, the PES, has been grumbling. They do not like the idea of a right-of-centre President of the Commission and they don’t like the fact that Barroso has resigned the Portuguese premiership, in effect accepting the presidency of the Commission before the hearings in the European Parliament.

The right-of-centre group of European People’s Party (EPP) will be the largest in the Parliament but it does not have a majority of members and will have to have support from other groups if it wants to vote Barroso through.

The leader of the EPP, Hans-Gert Pöttering has announced that the decision was, so to speak in the bag, as a deal had been done with the PES. Part of the deal is that socialists will have the European Parliament presidency for the first two and a half years of the parliamentary mandate and hand it over to the EPP for the second half.

If this supposed deal includes a right-wing President of the Commission, the PES has not done well out of it. Unsurprisingly, their leader, Martin Schultz has denied the existence of such a deal. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether any items on the agreement will come true.

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