Jose Barroso will face his biggest political test on Thursday since agreeing to become the next European Commission President.
Jose Barroso, the former Portuguese prime minister, will have to engineer a deal with the European Parliament that will diffuse the current crisis over his team of commissioners. The deal, while pandering to the wishes of MEPs -- several of whom are gunning for Italian commissioner-designate Rocco Buttiglione following his conservative comments on gays and women -- cannot afford to be seen as giving in too much to the Parliament. Some have suggested that a solution be found by taking away some responsibility in Buttiglione's justice and home affairs portfolio to give to other commissioners. The Socialists, the second biggest group in the Brussels assembly, flatly rejected this on Wednesday. However, the center-right EPP group, with 268 MEPs of the 732-member parliament, remains supportive of Buttiglione. Aside from having to find a solution that fits with the conflicting wishes of the parliamentary groups, Barroso will also have to deal with the other commissioners who have come in for some strong criticism -- including the Danish (Mariann Fischer Boel), the Latvian (Ingrida Udre) and the Hungarian (Laszlo Kovacs) candidates. If Buttiglione's portfolio is changed, a door will have been opened to Parliament's wish to have more say on the approval of individual Commissioners as it would be the direct result of one Committee's vote to reject the Italian. At the moment, under EU law, MEPs can only vote to reject the Commission as a whole and not single members of the team. (EUobserver.com)