As for the questions addressed by the parliamentary group leaders, EPP leader Joseph Daul (FR) asked whether President Barroso believed there would be another gas crisis this winter and if there were measures in place to protect the public. Mr Barroso replied that the early warning system agreed with Russia should help to identify problems in time.
Martin Schulz (S&D, DE) used his one-minute to request the Commission's view on the Bulgarian Prime Minister's comments regarding whether the Bulgarian Socialist party should be banned. President Barroso, declining to comment on the precise question, said he believed "all democratic parties have their place in democratic countries".
Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE) chose to ask about the structure of the new Commission stating that he is "not convinced" by the idea of splitting the Environment portfolio. He also wondered about the future distribution of the present Justice and Home Affairs areas of competence, saying he did not want security to be linked to immigration. "Climate change is a cross-cutting remit, the aim is to mainstream it in all policies", came the response from Mr Barroso.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit (DE), co-chair of the Greens/EFA, enquired too about the new Commission asking whether it would be decided by Mr Barroso or if Member States would impose their desires on who should be awarded which portfolio. Quoting an article from the Lisbon Treaty, Mr Barroso replied that it is the Commission President who decides on the organisation and the distribution of portfolios, and that was what he is going to do.
Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR, PL), said the EU needed to strengthen its internal market and competition laws and asked what the Commission will do about this. Mr Barroso said the Commission had launched a public consultation on the internal market and confirmed that Mario Monti, a former Competition Commissioner, would be in charge of the final report.
Lothar Bisky (EUL/NGL, DE), referring to the deep economic crisis and its long-term effects, asked the President whether he was prepared "to get the new Commission to draw lessons from false market economics". Mr Barroso stressed that the emphasis would be placed on education, life-long learning, worker mobility and fighting exclusion and poverty.
Then to conclude the leaders' questions, Rolandas Paksas (LT) on behalf of the EFD spoke about nuclear energy situation in Lithuania. Mr Barroso replied that he had discussed this issue with Russian President Medvedev and that the Commission was working actively with the Lithuanian authorities and other partners on the issue.
Despite all of these questions, the main points to emerge from this lively session in the chamber surrounded the new composition of the new Barroso Commission. Who knows: the December Question Hour might perhaps be dominated by the choices of portfolios? Are the hearings of five years ago still lurking in people's minds?…