European Press Review: Towards Democracy? | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 28.10.2004
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European Press Review: Towards Democracy?

European papers on Thursday discussed incoming EU Commission chief Jose Barroso's withdrawal of his proposed executive team.

"The European parliament has won an important victory," began Danish paper Jyllands Posten.The paper said that the parliament's reluctance to accept a compromise solution over personnel it deemed unfit should be seen as a kind of admonition to the new commission, which will now have to recognize the importance of the other EU institutions. Although based on democracy, they too can occasionally be moody, it wrote.

The Luxemburger Wort said the parliament can celebrate this victory. "But over whom?" asked the paper, "over Barroso?" The paper maintained that the Barroso did not comply with the wishes of the parliament over several nominations because he was under too much pressure by individual governments -- in particular Italy's, whose designate for the commission, Rocco Buttiglione, was the most controversial.

"The paper tiger shows its teeth," wrote Switzerland's Basler Zeitung. While the withdrawal of the new commission symbolized an important step towards addressing the lack of democracy that has plagued the European Union, the paper said, there's still a long road ahead before the parliament gains the same status as the commission or the EU Council.

Another Swiss daily, the Berner Zeitung commented in a similar fashion, welcoming the withdrawal for strengthening the only European body elected by the people of Europe. It said the parliament's opposition to Barroso's team was also a slap in the face for the European heads of government who sent their political friends and allies, often involved in scandals at home, to Brussels.

London's Daily Telegraph took a more euroskeptical view. "The EU is gradually taking on the style of a state and one which enshrines values that tend to be politically correct and leftist. It mutates old fashioned liberal themes such as separating church and states, into a sort of secular religion to be policed from Brussels". The paper wanrned warned that "the most worrying thing is that they lack legitimacy. They are the creed of new European political class, aloof from ordinary people but impatient for power and status. The paradox of (Wednesday's)events is that they are a great victory for the European parliament but not for democracy."

The Belgium paper Le Soir argued that while Buttiglione has the right -- like every EU citizen -- to express his personal views, it's his ability to separate them from his intentions that disqualifies the Italian nominee. "This man was not worthy of a position in the commission, at least not for the post of justice commissioner." It's now up to Barroso to use this opportunity to assemble a more suitable team added the paper

Rome's Il Messagero wrote that "it doesn't take much to understand that in the end, Europe will have to pay dearly for this crisis which most likely won't be resolved without some blood shed". The European Parliament, which has tasted political power for the first time, will no doubt try and wield more in the future, the paper predicted.

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