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The Socialist and Democratic Group wants a High Representative, Socialist

(BRUSSELS2) A hearing of a candidate for the European Commission by MEPs is always fascinating. Because fault lines are revealed that we did not always suspect, or demands that had not yet been pierced. This morning, at the Joszef Antall building of the European Parliament in Brussels, this tradition was respected. The socialist group emerged a little divided from the hearing (Spaniards, Portuguese, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, Slovenes and a few British (“loyalists”!) supporting the renewal of the Portuguese José-Manuel Barroso at the head of the executive European; the others, more or less rejecting it. And certain demands have emerged.

Martin Schulz, the leader of the Socialists & Democrats group, officially confirmed one of his demands on Tuesday, in front of the press, at the end of the hearing: “that the future High Representative, Vice-President of the Commission be a socialist". “The current incumbent (Javier Solana) is currently a socialist. And it makes sense to have a balance of power within the Commission. (…) The right’s dream of having a completely right-wing Commission is dangerous,” he explained. Such a claim had never been so clearly and clearly
expressed. During the last debates in July, when Martin Schulz mentioned a list of portfolios which should/could be entrusted to socialists, he did not mention the post of High Representative. And, above all, for the moment, there is not really an officially or unofficially declared candidate. But who cares: it’s politics.

Evasive Barroso. During the hearing before the group, José-Manuel Barroso was quite evasive, however, according to several MPs I interviewed. He thus considered that a political balance was justified, but not automatically with the High Representative, but between the three heads of the EU – in the Lisbon version: that is to say with the President of the European Council in particular. However, he did not want to get involved any further, believing that “not having the institutional means to express more than an opinion”.

Socialists not happy. What Martin Schulz absolutely does not want: “Parliament does not vote on the President of the Council. On the other hand, he decides on the choice of the High Representative. It is therefore logical that the political balance is achieved in this position”. And this seems to be a sine qua non condition. Moreover, Schulz indicated “personally, I will vote against the appointment of Barroso“. And to a colleague who asked him if the candidacy of the Labor Party Blair for the post of President of the European Council satisfied him, he had this
ironic repartee: “I said a socialist. (…) Blair for me is the Prime Minister of Great Britain.”

Who? On the other hand, when we question everyone to find out who the ideal, socialist candidate would be, there is dead calm. Everyone looks at the ceiling. “A German” blurted out one of his compatriots. Steinmeier, the current German Foreign Minister and leader of the SPD. “He is actually the only candidate” this MP confirms to me. But it's a bit taboo. Because officially, it is Martin Schulz, the leader of the Socialists, who is aiming for the position. The Spanish “Moratinos why not” replied my interlocutor who, visibly, was not
Pense. “Or a Prime Minister” He adds. He would have the necessary authority.” Which one… The nomination ball spins… And “Kouchner is a socialist. Does it suit you ?” I asked ironically. “Oh no” replies a French MP. “And then Sarkozy has other candidates in sight”.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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