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Barroso Starting Search for New EU Commission

Incoming European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has begun consultations with the European Union (EU) governments in an effort to resolve the crisis over his proposed new executive agency. Mr. Barroso was forced to withdraw his Commission lineup just two days before Friday's signing of the new European constitution.

The new European Commission, led by incoming President Jose Manuel Barroso, had been due to start work Monday, following the signing Friday of the new charter for the union in Rome.

But Mr. Barroso withdrew his lineup earlier this week when it became clear the European Parliament would not approve it because of widespread opposition to the controversial nominee for justice and security, Italy's Rocco Buttiglione.

The Italian commissioner designate recently upset many European parliament deputies when he described homosexuality as a sin. His views on women and marriage were also unacceptable to many center and left-wing members of the EU parliament.

After a lavish ceremony in Rome's Capitoline Hill to mark the signing of EU's new constitution, the former Portuguese prime minister said he had already begun talks to resolve the impasse.

"I will now engage [in] consultations with some members of the European Council and the political forces in the European parliament," said Mr. Barroso. "My goal is to present a commission that will deserve strong support of the European parliament and also the full confidence of the European council."

Mr. Barroso indicated for the first time that he expected to replace some members of his proposed executive. He said the parliament's opposition to a nominee is to be expected in working democracies.

"What happened in the European Parliament is quite normal in most of our democracies," he added. "Our democracies have discussion, have debate. It's not a bureaucracy, it's a democracy. What we are witnessing now here is of course democracy in the European Union working."

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, whose country holds the EU presidency, said European leaders have expressed confidence in Mr. Barroso after the signing of the new constitution. He added that EU leaders were certain Mr. Barroso's efforts will succeed.

"Effective leadership and public support are what the European Union requires to transform the promise of today's treaty into reality," said Mr. Balkenende.

Mr. Balkenende also thanked the present commission and its president, Italy's Romano Prodi, for agreeing to stay on until a new lineup wins approval.

"I'm grateful that the Prodi commission is willing to go on and continue their activities, so I'm grateful for their willingness to carry on their work in these circumstances," he added.

A deadline for the presentation of a new team has not been given, but Mr. Barroso said he hopes to complete the process in the next few weeks.