European Commission, 2004-2009: Parliamentary Hearings, September-November 2004

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Publication Date 01/01/2005
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The Treaty of Nice (2003) has amended the procedure for appointing a new European Commission. As laid down in Article 214 TEU the team of European Commissioners - proposed by its President designate - 'shall be subject as a body to a vote of approval by the European Parliament'. Before taking this vote, European Parliament committees conduct hearings with the proposed Commissioners in accordance with Parliament's internal Rules of Procedure.

At the end of the term of Romano Prodi's European Commission, these Hearings of the Commissioners designate - the team nominated by incoming President José Manuel Barroso - took place between 27 September and 8 October 2004.

In these hearings the Italian nominee for the post of Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, Rocco Buttiglione, was rejected by a narrow margin by the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee and MEPs also stressed their dissatisfaction with other members of Barroso's team. [Find detailed comentaries on the individual hearings on the website of the European Policy Centre, Section 'Political Europe':]

Following the individual hearings by parliamentary committees, the vote of approval on the entire College of Commissioners was scheduled for the plenary session of 27 October 2004 in Strasbourg. However, facing the prospect of a rejection by the European Parliament, the European Commission President-designate, Jos�anuel Barroso, decided not to submit his new Commission for approval.

The Commission under President Barroso was consequently asked to stay in office in a caretaker position beyond 1 November 2004, the date when the new Commission was originally planned to take over.

On 4 November 2004 José Manuel Barroso received approval from the European Council for his team of Commissioners after he had revised it on three positions. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Latvian Andris Piebalgs were added and the Hungarian Commissioner designate, L�l�v�, was moved to another protfolio. Italy's controversial nominee, Rocco Buttiglione, had withdrawn his candidacy as had Latvian Ingrida Udre whose Latvian liberal-green party was being investigated for funding irregularities.

Parliamentary hearings for the two new nominees and the Hungarian Commissioner designate took place on 15 and 16 November.

At its part-session on 18 November the European Parliament approved the revised team of European Commissioners and the Barroso Commission finally took office on the 22 November 2004.

The Daily Telegraph suggested that this was 'a demonstration of the power steadily accumulating around an institution with a growing importance in the politics of an entire continent: the European Parliament'.

EU: Legislation and Policy Making

Council of the European Union: General Secretariat: Press Release, 5.11.04: Heads of State or Government meeting, Brussels, 5 November 2004
European Parliament: Activities: Hearings: Investiture Procedure of the 2004-2009 Commission - Hearings of the Commissioners Designate
European Commission: Press Release, 27.10.04: Institutional continuity of Commission assured
European Commission: SPEECH/04/484: Jos�anuel Barroso, President-designate of the European Commission, Plenary session of the European Parliament, Strasbourg, 17 November 2004
European Commission: Press Release: IP/04/1317: Institutional continuity of Commission assured (27.10.04)
European Commission: SPEECH/04/467 (27.10.04): Jos�anuel Barroso, President-Designate of the European Commission: Speech to the European Parliament, Plenary Session, Strasbourg, 27 October 2004

EU: Background

European Parliament: Daily Notebook: 18.11.2004
European Parliament: Background Information: Procedure for appointing the President of the Commission
European Parliament: Daily Notebook, 17.11.2004: Barroso - judge the Commission as a whole
European Parliament: Daily Notebook, 27.10.2004: Barroso withdraws his proposal for the new Commission; Political groups react;
European Commission: The Members of the Barroso Commission (2004-2009)
European Parliemant: Background Information, 22.10.04: Election of the European Commission
European Parliament: Daily Notebook, 26.10.2004: Barroso defends his Commission

Stakeholder organisation

Statewatch: Press release, 23.8.04: New Commissioner for "Justice, Freedom and Security" talks of the EU being "swamped" by a immigration "time-bomb"
EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament: Theme of the Day, 17.11.04: Hans-Gert Poettering on the new Barroso Commission
PSE Group in the European Parliament: Press Release, 14.10.04: Socialists warn 'Barroso' in stand-off. Press conference on the Commission hearings, Mr Buttiglione and relations with Mr Barroso
ALDE Group in the European Parliament: ALDE Group and the Barroso Commission
EPC: Issue Paper 17: The Barroso Commission - Unfinished Business? (by John Palmer and Giovanni Grevi)
Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament: Issues: The future Commission and the Commissioners designate
GUE/NGL Group in the European Parliament: Press Release, 26.10.04: Investiture de la Commission Barroso
EPC: Commentary, 12.10.04: European Parliament Hearings: Commissioner Designate Rocco Buttiglione. (by Mirjam Dittrich)
EPC: Commentary, 18.11.04: Towards a 'Parliamentary Union'? - A note of caution (by Guillaume Durand and Lorenzo Allio)

Commercial publisher and media

Financial Times, 4.11.04: Barroso hopes final team ready for summit
Financial Times, 5.11.04: Barroso shuffles team to take in Frattini
European Voice, 10.11.04: Parliament to approve Barroso, but doubts remain over Kroes
Financial Times, 17.11.04: Brussels reshuffle set to win approval
BBC News, 18.11.04: MEPs approve revamped Commission, 24.11.04: European Parliament looks to US-style congressional hearings
BBC News, 4.11.04: New EU Commission line-up ready
Financial Times, 28.10.04: Parliament power
Financial Times, 18.11.04 (editorial): After Buttiglione
Financial Times, 21.10.04: A compromise will be good for Brussels
European Voice, 23.9.04: Money matters to dominate Parliament quiz
BBC News, 27.9.04: Grilling for EU commissioners
Financial Times, 2.10.04: Europe's 'tough girl'
BBC News, 5.10.04: Brussels inquisition for commissioners
Financial Times, 12.10.04: Brussels panel rejects Italian as choice for European Commissioner
Financial Times, 15.10.04 (editorial): Brussels bust-up
Financial Times, 28.10.04: Barroso's retreat is good for Europe's democracy
Financial Times, 21.10.04: Barroso offers to cut Buttiglione duties
Financial Times, 3.11.04: Second scalp in Barroso team cull
The Economist, 23.10.04: The European Commission. An Italian opera buffa
BBC News, 27.10.04: Barroso backs down over EU vote
Financial Times, 28.10.04: EU faces paralysis after power struggle
European Voice, 28.10.04: A great day for democracy: the Parliament bites
The Economist, 30.10.04: The European Commission. A knight in tarnished armour
Financial Times, 1.11.04: Resignation opens way for Barroso to end dispute
BBC News, 2.11.04: Latvia names new EU commissioner
The Economist, 16.10.04: The let's pretend parliament

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