THE new European Commission was finally approved by the European Parliament yesterday, three months late because of delays over the Lisbon Treaty and questions over one of the nominees.
MEPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of Jose Manuel Barrosso’s new team of 26 commissioners, including Ireland’s Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.
The new Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner reflected the general opinion voiced following the vote in Strasbourg when she said: “A key priority is to work together to ensure we put together a policy member states will be able to respond to in a very practical and very positive way.”
The vote — 488 for, 137 against and 72 abstentions — ushered in a new relationship between the commission and parliament as MEPs received greater power under the Lisbon Treaty to have equal say with member states on most legislation.
“This is the dawn of a new decade, with a new way of working for the European institutions,” parliament president Jerzy Buzak said.
Barroso, who already was subject to tough negotiations with the parliament over his commissioners, agreed and said that accountability to parliament was crucially important for the commission’s democratic legitimacy.
He appealed for the MEPs, the member states and the commission to work together over the next five years to tackle the serious issues, including the economic crisis, climate change and energy security.
“This is a time for boldness... so let’s get away from the intellectual glamour of pessimism and constant denigration of the EU that is doing so much damage to Europe’s image,” he said.
The EU counts in the world when it speaks with a united voice but not when countries act in their narrow national interests.
Leader of the three Fianna Fáil MEPs, Pat the Cope Gallagher, said the vote brought an end to the political vacuum the EU has been living in for months.
“Today’s vote provides the green light for the EU to bring forward measures that will maintain and create jobs within Ireland and the EU.”
He pointed out Irish companies draw down more than €1 million a week under the EU’s research and development programme which will now be part of Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn’s portfolio.
The parliament that questioned each commission nominee for more than three hours rejected the original Bulgarian nominee saying she was not fit for the job of Development Commissioner. She withdrew and was replaced.
This is Barroso’s second term and one of his proposed team, the Italian nominee, was also forced to withdraw five years ago.
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