Graham Watson - Liberal Democrat MEP for South-West England and Gibraltar

Nomination of Commission President handled "in a most unsatisfactory way"

12.00.00am BST (GMT +0100) Wed 30th Jun 2004

"European Heads of State and Government have handled the nomination of the new Commission President in a most unsatisfactory way" according to ELDR Leader Graham Watson MEP (Liberal Democrat - UK). Speaking after a meeting of the ELDR Bureau in Brussels this morning, at which the candidacy of Mr Durao Barroso was discussed, Mr Watson said that ELDR delegation leaders felt that "once again a lowest common denominator candidate was the best they could do."

"Regardless of the merits of the nominee, European Liberals and Democrats feel that European Heads of State and Government have handled the nomination of the new Commission President in a most unsatisfactory way. Excellent candidacies were sacrificed for national egos. This kind of horse-trading is exactly the thing that Europeans do not trust about European politics. By turning the appointment into a political trophy, EU Heads of State and Government badly neglected their responsibilities to the EU at an important time. The belated display of unity in Brussels last night can't distract from the fact that once again a lowest common denominator candidate was the best they could do."

"Mr Durao Barroso still has plenty to prove. We will invite Mr Durao Barroso to meet the ELDR Group at the first possible opportunity to discuss his goals and ambitions for Europe and his vision for the new enlarged European Union."

Mr Watson added that his group was considering calling for a delay of at least one week in the vote to approve Mr Durao Barroso. "We need more time to get to know a candidate who is still relatively unknown in European Union circles" Mr Watson said.

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