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NEWS | Wednesday, 04 February 2009

Barroso pushing for Joe Borg

EC president wants Borg to stay on

The president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, is supporting the reappointment of Joe Borg to a second term in his Commission, this newspaper has learnt.
Barroso, who is expected to retain the presidency of the next Commission, has spoken directly to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi on the matter.
A Commissioner is appointed by the member state together with the President, who decides upon their portfolio. The Commission in its entirety then seeks the approval of the Parliament and the Council of Ministers, by qualified majority. The post comes with a financial package of €220,000 per year, among other benefits.
Sources in Brussels have confirmed Barroso wants Borg to be nominated once again by the Maltese government, so that he stays in his team but with a different portfolio.
Borg, a former foreign minister, currently handles the EU’s maritime and fisheries portfolio.
One of the portfolios he could be tipped for is the future enlargement of the EU, which is currently in the hands of Olli Rehn, a Finn.
Sources close to Borg described the Commissioner’s relationship with Barroso to have been “very good” in these last five years. “They enjoy a good working relationship with each other, one which Barroso may not necessarily have with other commissioners.”
As Commissioner for enlargement, Borg would have the job of keeping the Western Balkans and Turkey firmly on the track for European Union membership.
He recently expressed his desire to serve a second term, saying he knows the workings of the Commission very well and that he is ready for another term if the Prime Minister re-appoints him.
Commission sources are also aware that Malta’s permanent representative to the EU, Richard Cachia Caruana, is being touted as a possible choice for Commissioner.
The current term is set to expire in October, although a decision by the Prime Minister could be expected after the European Parliament elections in June.
Chances are Barroso will want to retaine Joe Borg if he is reconfimed as president of the European Commission and given a second mandate, as expected.
With a centre-left victory expected in the next round of elections for the European Parliament, Barroso is expected to be nominated again for the position.
Barroso also remains the European centre-right’s preferred candidate for the president of the next Commission, the head of the European People's Party (EPP), Wilfried Martens, said.
Martens in fact rejected suggestions that Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende could be nominated. “Among the leaders of the EPP the name of José Manuel Barroso is accepted as a candidate,” Martens said.
The EPP has not officially endorsed Barroso as their official candidate to head the next Commission, although he was proposed by Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker at a summit of EPP leaders last October.
Government whip David Agius said he hopes the Prime Minister will seek the consultation of his MPs on the appointment of the Commissioner, after Gonzi single-handedly nominated George Abela to the presidency.


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