Seems that my previous post about outgoing Italian PM Romano Prodi trying to stitch up the Italian Commission nomination was wide of the mark – it seems mortadella tried but was ultimately not successful (and he subsequently sounds bitter – as in this EUObserver article).
So what happened, and is going to happen?
Firstly Barroso moved Jacques Barrot from the Transport to the Justice & Home Affairs portfolio in the Commission. JHA is a priority for the forthcoming French Presidency, and Barrot is rewarded for having been a diligent Transport Commissioner and having managed to get Galileo off the ground (not an easy task). Here Barrot and Sarkozy think they are the winners – it will make things smoother for their Presidency.
Barroso should also be complimented here, as he surely realised that he could look decisive, keep France happy, and also avoid a calamity in the European Parliament by moving Barrot to JHA. The danger would be that if Forza Italia were to nominate a JHA Commissioner, the Buttiglione problem would arise once more – a Commissioner with views unacceptable to the European Parliament.
So while Berlusconi might be a bit bruised because Italy gets the transport portfolio, his nominee (likely to be Antonio Tajani) should manage to get through his EP hearing, and will be well placed to help deal with the Brussels angle of the Alitalia support package. In short, everyone can claim victory – except Prodi – whose cards were probably the weakest all along.