EurActiv has reported that 5 of the Commission have told Barroso that they intend to run for election to the European Parliament this June. These Commissioners include:
"Viviane Reding (information society), Louis Michel (humanitarian aid), Janez Potočnik (research), Danuta Hübner (regional policy) and Ján Figel' (education)."
Since they would need to leave the Commission before the elections, Barroso will need to reshuffle the Commission and balance the competing interests of ideology and nationality. It will be interesting to see how he deals with it, as with 5 Commissioners leaving at once, this will be the biggest reshuffle he has had to manage yet. And as Barroso is almost certain to be reappointed for another term (which will be extended to accommodate the second Irish referendum), this reshuffled Commission could be the basis of the new one.
Another interesting question is: what does this reveal about the political dynamics of the Commission and EP?
The Commissioners may been jumping ship early, as seems to be the habit with Commissions in their dying days, but that all 5 (though others may leave later for other reasons) will leave to campaign to be elected to their (hopeful) next job, and that they want an EP seat may indicate that some of the assumptions of EU institutional balance and European political culture may be aging and loosing some of there relevance:
1. The Commission is more powerful than the EP, and a Commission post is a more attractive than an EP seat.
2. National politics are more attractive to politicians (except in isolated cases of idealists), and Commission posts are for decommissioned national politicians or a spring broad for the national ambitions (in some cases both). In any case Commissioners are usually unelectable as well and unelected and would not put themselves up for the vote.
It has been my own view that the power of the Commission has been declining as that of the EP has been rising. While some of this is to do with the weakness of the Commission's leadership, the extension of the co-decision procedure (making the EP an equal co-legislator with the Council) has weakened the Commission as the EP and Council's consensus matters more to the success and shaping of legislation than sole power of initiation which is vested in the Commission. The Commission's right of initiation is in any case weakened by its fragmented nature (differing ideologies, national viewpoints and agenda mean that its wrong to portray the Commission as a monolithic organisation - though the Commission's civil service and Treaty tasks along with the growing "presidential" power of the Commission President goes some way to countering this) and its lack of resources. In extreme cases the EP and the Council can at the end of the co-decision process make bargains excluding the Commission ("conciliation").
However, I don't know enough about the history of Commissioners running for EP elections, so this may be a tenuous link to make.
Edit: Julien Frisch has pointed out that EurActiv has updated its report. It seems now that two of the Commissioners have ruled themselves out of the EP elections: Potočnik and Figel. Figel seems to be very categorical in ruling himself out. This probably weakens my argument somewhat. I wonder if the other 3 are going to rule themselves out too?