Enlargement, possible alternative if Romania fails to win agriculture portfolio

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The enlargement portfolio, besides the regional development or research ones, which the media have been circulating over the past weeks, could be an alternative if Romania fails to win the portfolio of agriculture in the future European Commission.

While some weeks ago Romanian officials were, at least in their statements, counting almost exclusively on the agriculture portfolio (arguing that Romania announced as far back as this January, albeit unofficially, its interest in this portfolio), the statements of Romanian officials over the past days were no longer that vehemently in favour of this portfolio.

As alternatives, regional development, research and consumer protection have been so far indicated as alternatives, to which the enlargement portfolio, currently held by Finnish Olli Rehn, was added. Rehn’s name has been circulated in the diplomatic quarters of Brussels as the possible successor of Javier Solana in the office of the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Romanian Foreign Minister Cristian Diaconescu has recently assured that Romania has several strategies for the European commissioner office and that Romania does not negotiate on the ‘my way or the highway’ principle. He insisted on the importance of political support from the European Parliament for the candidate to the European commissioner office.

Over the past two week, Austria and Ireland have joined the list of contesters for the agriculture portfolio in the new European Commission that will be held by Portuguese Jose Manuel Barroso, who last week was reconfirmed to the office by the European Parliament, throughout 2014.
So far, all the European commissioners for agriculture have hailed from small or medium- sized member states – the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Luxembourg.

The fact that Romania is a relatively large member state, number seven in term of population size, could be a decisive factor in favor of Romania winning the portfolio. Practice so far indicates that in order to avoid any discrimination and the need for balance at the level of the European Commission, important portfolios, such as agriculture, are not distributed to the old member states or the large ones.

One week ago, the Romanian chief diplomat told Agerpres that several member states, including France, are endorsing Romania to win the agriculture portfolio in the future European Commission, but said that the negotiating process is confidential and continuing.

‘As you can see, some member states of the EU are consistent in their support to Romania. French Minister for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche, voiced the support publicly on behalf of France and I believe the prospects are quite good, but the negotiating process, which is confidential, continues,’ said Diaconescu.

Asked if there is a an alternative portfolio targeted by Romania if the agriculture is coveted by more state, Diaconescu said that Romania’s aim for the time being is to win the agriculture portfolio, adding that Romania could adjust itself to the circumstances.
Incumbent Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel of Denmark on September 14 said he will not run for a new term in office in the future European Commission.

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