It doesn't really matter how many grand speeches European leaders make about democracy, the actions of the EU will always gainsay them. Yesterday's vote by the European Parliament to re-appoint the Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, for a further five years is a case in point.

The deal had been fixed up, with a good deal of grudging compliance, by the leaders of all 27 member states earlier in the summer. Barroso's candidature was presented yesterday to the European Parliament with no alternative on offer and a majority of the votes already fixed.

And so we have the re-appointment of a man whom nobody seems to have any great faith in for the job of the EU's top official at perhaps Europe's most critical moment, with a recession still underway and huge challenges on climate change, energy security and international relations. Read full article...