The EU's new commission president has offered the next German commissioner, Günter Verheugen, the industry portfolio -- a position short of what Berlin had hoped for.
First step enlargement, next step industry.
According to German news magazine Focus, newly named EU Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso has suggested that Günter Verheugen, who is currently responsible for enlargement, be moved to industry starting in November.
This falls short of the influential economic post that German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had been pushing for. In the last few weeks the German leader had made no secret of his expectations of seeing a fellow countrymen head up a powerful commission and had run amiss with Barroso, who said he did not appoint commissioners at the behest of any one country.
Instead, the big posts, such as competition and internal markets, are expected to go the new French and British commissioners.
The announcement met with disappointment not only within Schröder's government, but among the German opposition as well. "That is a lightweight commissioner and falls well below our expectations," said Christian Social Union's economics expert Hans Michelbach about the industry portfolio.
24 vacancies to fill
But nothing has been set in stone. Barroso has said that he will present his team of 24 commissioners towards the end of August, leaving several denominators up in the air.
The president has already made clear that he does not want any first and second class commissioners on his team -- a reference to Germany's demands for a high profile "super commissioner" -- and has called for at least eight women to head up the various EU executive offices.
Former Portuguese Premier Jose Manuel Barroso takes over from Romano Prodi as the EU's new Commission President
Barroso had also called on member states to make his job easier by proposing more than one candidate from which he can choose. However, so far all national governments have just put forward one name and the Portuguese is struggling to meet his goal of eight female commissioners.