Barroso Tries to Woo MEPs
Former Portuguese prime minister José Barroso was on the defensive Tuesday as Socialists and Green MEPs questioned his credentials for being the next Commission president.
The nominee for the top Brussels job was grilled by both groups on his views on Iraq the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, on his European vision and why he had resigned as prime minister before receiving MEPs' approval. Presenting himself humbly by constantly repeating "if I am confirmed as Commission President," and with occasional flashes of humor, Barroso fielded the questions with careful answers and in three languages - Portuguese, French and English. The socialists had some tough questions on Barroso's economic policy which saw him push through some harsh privatization measures as prime minister to comply with the stability pact. The Portuguese admitted that his country had "two very tough years" but argued that for him, social issues and culture are higher on the agenda. Referring to his country's support of the American led invasion in Iraq, Barroso said: "The Iraqi decision was the most difficult one I had to take as prime minister." To the Greens, he said he is a "great admirer" of the US but added: "I hate their arrogance. I hate their unilateralism." MEPs will vote on Mr Barroso's candidature on 22 July. He needs a simple majority of the 732 MEPs to get the job which starts in November.