ALTHOUGH the standing of the House of Commons is not high at the moment one of its best-known institutions has been adopted by the European Parliament in the form of Question Hour, a monthly appearance by the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, to answer questions from MEPs. This week Mr Barroso was questioned particularly on his most important current task -- appointing the 25 new Commissioners who will take up responsibilities for the EU's work in areas ranging from international trade to enlargement and from the functioning of the internal market to the environment. Acknowledging that he would be subject to pressure from member states, which each put forward lists of candidates for these jobs, Mr Barroso insisted that at the end of the day I have the final choice.
Although that is probably true the reality is that the president also has to balance several other factors in reaching his decision. One, for instance, is his stated intention of appointing at least nine women Commissioners -- while admitting that at the time of saying that he had received only three nominations.
It is also worth noting that the European Parliament now requires all of Mr Barroso's appointees to appear before it and respond to questions on their qualifications and political or other backgrounds. The Parliament has the right to ask the Commission president to think again if it is not satisfied with the answers it gets.