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Europe

MEPs Await More Concessions from Barroso

MEPs are expecting incoming Commission President Jose Barroso to make more concessions over his controversial new team ahead of a crucial vote on Wednesday.

In a speech to be given later this morning before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Barroso is expected to make further changes concerning Italian Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione -- who has caused such a furore with his views on gays and women. According to sources, Barroso may offer to bring forward new general legislation on anti-discrimination and offer other concessions to MEPs who want the parliament to be taken more seriously. Barroso is also considering, say insiders, whether to say that any more statements of this nature by Buttiglione will result in the latter's resignation. But what is remains unclear is whether such concession would be enough to swing a majority in favor of Barroso on Wednesday. If MEPs vote down the Commission on Wednesday, it will plunge the EU into a political crisis as it will be left without an executive -- just before the symbolically important signing of the Constitutional treaty on Friday. It will also shift the nature of the balance of power between the institutions in the EU as it will be the first time that the member states’ right to send whoever they want to Brussels has been so directly and publicly challenged. If the Commission does get voted in on Wednesday, it is expected that it will only be with a very narrow majority -- getting the new Barroso Commission off to a very tough start from which it will be difficult to recover. Moreover, for some MEPs, a positive vote would mean a missed chance for the parliament to really exercise its democratic power. For his part, Barroso said he hoped that the EU "can avoid any kind of power vacuum." (EUobserver.com)

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