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The European Parliament has come a step closer to backing José Manuel Barroso’s bid for a second consecutive term at the European Commission’s helm.

Leaders of the European Parliament’s political groups agreed yesterday (10 September) to stage a vote on Barroso’s re-appointment on 16 September, paving the way for the Portuguese to be re-elected for a second five-year mandate at the European Commission’s helm.

But Socialist and Green opposition to his re-appointment means there will be no “pro-European majority” behind him, as explained in a EurActiv article here.

Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal group (ALDE), helped tilt the balance in favour of Barroso when he threw his weight behind the former Portuguese prime minister.

But the leader of the Socialists and Democrats group, Martin Schulz, indicated that Barroso would not obtain a qualified majority of votes and thus he would not have the legitimacy required by the Lisbon Treaty, which he hopes will be ratified soon.

The vote of approval, due to take place by secret ballot, was scheduled for a plenary session on 16 September and Mr Barroso appears to have a sufficient majority to win it.

The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) is expected to vote massively in favour of Barroso and the Portuguese can also count on the support of the anti-federalist group spearheaded by the British Conservatives. Most of the Liberal MEPs from the ALDE group are also expected to back him.

However, he would need a broader majority to be assured of victory.

It remains unclear how much support the Portuguese candidate can obtain from the Socialist group. The seven Portuguese MEPs and most of the 21 Spanish legislators are expected to support him out of ‘peninsular’ solidarity. Some Socialist MEPs from Eastern European countries may also vote for Barroso.

But several French and German Socialists said they will vote against him and many other centre-left legislators are expected to abstain.

As a result, Barroso is likely to be elected ‘thanks’ to the anti-federalist and anti-Lisbon Treaty camp, as without those MEPs, he appears to be short of a majority.

Asked by EurActiv whether he was able to control his MEPs, or at least instruct them how to vote, Socialist and Democrats group leader Martin Schulz said: “For certain, I cannot, I am unable to give instructions, and it is not my habit. I try to convince my group with arguments. I wouldn’t hide that the Socialist group has different tendencies.”

Asked by EurActiv if Barroso would be voted in by a European majority, Schulz answered: “With our vote, he would. Without us, he can have a majority only with the anti-Europeans.”

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