Press Review: A Stronger EU? | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.11.2004
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Press Review: A Stronger EU?

European editorials on Friday had a lot to say about the new European Commission which has now been approved by the EU parliament.

European editorials are divided on whether they think the commission and the parliament have been strengthened or weakened by the whole process of approving the new executive.

Denmark’s Politiken thought they both came out of this stronger. It said cooperation in the European Union is better now following the tug of war over the new commissioners. The daily observes that members of the European Parliament made it clear they were willing to use their power, and the commission proved that it can negotiate constructively. After all is said and done, the paper believed this is the strongest commission yet, and the fact that its president was Portugal’s head of government shows that the executive is growing in political prestige.

The parliament may be stronger now with an improved public image, wrote the taz in Berlin, but the Commission is definitely not better off. Italy reluctantly withdrew its controversial candidate as did Latvia, but only because of a temporary power vacuum in the cabinet making it possible for Barroso to get new candidates. But the paper noted that the parliament was only concerned about two out of seven Commission candidates. The daily gave Barroso some

advice: If he wants to be more than just a puppet of European governments, then he needs to get parliament on his side during the next five years.

The Tages–Anzeiger in Zurich wasn’t sure if this whole episode was really a great moment in democracy or rather the beginning of a creeping crisis. Either way, it thought, it will be up to historians to judge. Many European Union parliamentarians were pleased with themselves for fighting for a stronger Europe because they didn’t just accept what EU governments were handing them. The paper urged all EU institutions to work together towards the same goal and reduce their own personal interests. And, it added, European citizens must be involved in the process -- only then will they accept the necessary reforms to fix the European welfare state.

Austria’s Salzburger Nachrichten came to the defense of Commission President Jose Barroso by pointing out that he has next to no influence over who the members of his team will be because they are handed to him by EU governments. The paper suggested that this unusual nomination process wouldn’t be so bad if governments would at least send their best politicians to Brussels, but they do so far too seldom. Another Austrian daily, Die Presse, looked at who’s replacing Franco Frattini as Italy’s next foreign minister now that he’s gone to Brussels. The daily commented that Gianfranco Fini has learned that one has to be first politically house-trained before being allowed into the diplomatic chambers of a western European government. It added that he long ago also learned to stop praising Italy’s former, darker, fascist side. But the paper asserted that it is difficult to tell if Fini has changed -- after all, his colleagues call him a chameleon.

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