Is José Manuel Barroso’s reappointment as European Commission president in trouble? Probably not. But the jury is still out on whether he will secure formal approval from the European Parliament as early as mid-July. If he does not, it will be difficult to dispel the clouds of doubt that will linger over his future for two months or more.
Such uncertainty is hardly what the European Union needs at a moment when its banking system faces hundreds of billions of euros in losses this year and next, and when Germany and France, the eurozone’s two biggest economies, appear utterly at odds over when and how to rebalance their public finances.
Back in 1970 or so, there was a children’s Saturday morning TV show called “The Banana Splits”, in which some ludicrous character or other would frantically splutter “Hold the bus!” – always too late, for the bus would proceed on its way regardless. It is an irresistible temptation to compare the four Banana Splits of 40 years ago - Bingo, Fleegle, Drooper and Snorky – with certain members of today’s European Parliament.
For while the legislators are busy spluttering “Stop Barroso!”, they are saying it much too late. José Manuel Barroso is proceeding on his way to reappointment as European Commission president. In fact, the entire episode threatens to show the European Union in the worst possible light, after EU-wide elections to the European Parliament that, with their record low turnout, were themselves not exactly a ringing endorsement of the way the EU conducts its business.