Commission: term may be extended


EUROPEAN COMMISSION president José Manuel Barroso has told his fellow commissioners they may have to stay beyond October 31st because of a second Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

The five-year mandate of the 27 commissioners sitting on the EU executive is due to expire on October 31st but the legal uncertainty generated by Ireland’s rejection of Lisbon last year means no one is sure which EU treaty will stand in 2010. With most Brussels-based officials predicting a second Irish referendum on Lisbon in October, Mr Barroso has informed his team they may have to serve until the end of the year. This would provide enough time for the treaty to enter into force legally following a Yes vote.

The issue was raised by Mr Barroso at a commission seminar held last Friday to prepare the work programme for the year ahead. According to the European Voice newspaper, the extension of the commission’s mandate could potentially open its decisions up to legal challenges. Beyond October 31st the commission would be “a low-profile caretaker administration and would avoid taking any important decisions”, it said.

A commission spokesman said he was not aware of any legal problems and noted that previous commissions had also had their mandates extended temporarily due to events.