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Has Europe lost its appetite for Barroso?

At dinner-cum-job interview, Barroso tries to convince member state leaders he should be re-hired.

Under such a scenario, there’s no guarantee Barroso would emerge with the job — or that his European People’s Party, the largest political grouping in the European Parliament, would fight to keep that position over, for example, the Council presidency. Part of the Commission president's power derives from his responsibility for presenting a slate of commissioners. In exchange for their support of the Commission president, member states have an unspoken expectation that they will receive a plum Commission appointment. If someone other than Barroso eventually becomes Commission president, years of political investment in him by member states will have been for naught.

But it’s not any particular head of state who poses the biggest potential threat to Barroso’s hopes, to say nothing of his appetite at dinner. Rather, it's Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a member of the European Parliament who also serves as president of the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) political grouping.

“We must stop Barroso!” shouts the "Stop Barroso" website unveiled this week by Cohn-Bendit and supporters, although the campaign itself was announced back in March with a call for other parties to present their own candidates (which didn’t happen).

Even without alternative nominees, Cohn-Bendit pressed ahead with quashing the Barroso nomination. At a press conference on Tuesday, he insisted that it’s not Barroso personally who is his main target, but rather the fact that his reappointment would be pushed through at this early date. That claim seemed a bit disingenuous given both the name of the campaign and the fact that at a press conference Cohn-Bendit gleefully played a video mocking Barroso.

Since the EU's legislative body must confirm Barroso, this opposition is more than mere disappointment or annoyance for him. The Socialists, the second-largest group in parliament, and some factions inside the Liberal group, the third-largest, also have expressed discomfort with an early reappointment of the Commission president.

Cohn-Bendit asserted that even a “lot of members of this parliament who are in favor of Barroso themselves are against this method.”

All this controversy leaves pro-Barroso leaders to adjust their words accordingly Thursday. He will still have to make the pitch for himself over dinner but can already expect strong support from heads of state.

He won’t have long to savor that, however; regardless of what the 27 say tonight, he’ll have to move on quickly to sweet-talking the 736-member parliament which reconvenes in mid-July.

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