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Europe

German Press Review: Victory for EU Parliament

Topping German editorials Thursday was the withdrawal of incoming European Commission chief Jose Barroso’s EU executive team.

The Frankfurter Rundschau called it a tide of change in Europe. "After years of sliding down the slippery slope of oblivion, the European Parliament has finally done something worthy of its name. By putting its foot down to Barroso’s proposal, the parliament has gained respect. This reinforces European democracy," the paper wrote. The European Parliament is no longer a political lightweight, it concluded.

Cologne’s Express expressed similar sentiments, writing that the days of the spineless European Parliament are over. "The Parliament has finally shown some spunk. This unprecedented act by the members of parliament has disgraced Jose Barroso, but he has only himself to blame for this total farce," the paper said. "He was like a stubborn donkey holding onto his proposed team until the last second before the vote. Hopefully, the parliament’s big 'no' to his proposal will ensure that the European Commission executives will be chosen more carefully in the future."

Münich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that Barroso has taken a severe blow before even stepping into office. "Should he decide to stick with it, he’s going to have to live with this birth defect for the next five years," it said. Had he acted strongly and independently in the first place, and perhaps with the help of other government heads, Barroso could have forced Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to replace Italy’s designated commissioner, the Süddeutsche noted.

Berlin’s Tagesspiegel said it’s not Barroso who’s lost. In fact, wrote the paper, Barroso will grow stronger now in the new talks about designating commissioners. It’s the national governments, especially those whose candidates triggered the conflict, who are the real losers, noted the Tagespiegel.

The Nürnberger Zeitung took an entirely different view. The paper remarked that after this new democratic move by the European Parliament, one is only going to find smooth, polished commissioners that don’t rub people the wrong way in the future. "But is that really going to advance Europe?" asked the paper.