» Thursday, July 22, 2004

EU Commissioner

Asked if an announcement on Britain’s new EU Commissioner would be made tomorrow, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that an announcement would be made when a final decision had been taken. He reminded journalists that we had until the end of the month to make the appointment. Pressed further on this issue, the PMOS said that it was important to abide by the usual conventions both in terms of the way we operated in Downing Street and in Europe. Asked if he was indicating that we would have to notify the European Parliament and they would have to give their consent, the PMOS pointed out that the new President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, had had to go through such a procedure today. Asked if it was right to say that that the European Parliament needed to accept or reject the entire European Commission rather than individual Commissioners, the PMOS said yes. Put to him that the UK didn’t need the all-clear from Brussels to put forward its nominee, the PMOS said that there were normal courtesies to be observed by all EU member states in respect of the Commission President whom it was usual to inform about nominees. This was usually done through a discussion, which in this case had not yet taken place. Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to Mr Barroso today, the PMOS said no. Nor was he aware of any plans for him to do so today at this stage. Asked if it was too late for a ‘writ’ for a by-election to be put down today, the PMOS said that he had no intention of getting drawn into a hypothetical discussion about this issue.

Questioned as to whether the Prime Minister had either sought or received advice from Cabinet colleagues about Commission nominees, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister spoke to his Cabinet colleagues on a regular basis, as you would expect. It wasn’t our policy to comment on those conversations. Asked if the issue had been discussed at Cabinet this morning, the PMOS said no.

Asked if the Prime Minister was deliberately delaying the announcement of the UK’s new Commissioner or whether it was the case that he genuinely hadn’t made a decision yet, the PMOS repeated that an announcement would be made when a final decision had been taken. Asked if he was indicating that a final decision had not yet been taken, the PMOS said that he had already answered the question. He had nothing further to add.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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