It's lonely at the top. José Manuel Barroso in Lausanne, Switzerland, 2007 (AFP).

The wrong man at the right time

Without inspiring much enthusiasm, José Manuel Barroso has been re-elected president of the European Commission. Adrian Hamilton in the Independent argues that a less bureaucratic chief executive would have been more appropriate at a time when Europe urgently needs the unity adn drive to tackle the recession, climate change and energy security.

Published on 17 September 2009 at 10:59
It's lonely at the top. José Manuel Barroso in Lausanne, Switzerland, 2007 (AFP).

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...


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The crumbling estate of José Manuel Barroso

The EU will have a president (disguised as Chairman of the European Council) and a minister of foreign affairs (disguised as High Commissioner…), and the competences of the European Parliament will be much broader. José Manuel Barroso, who now doesn’t have much clout in European politics, will become the continental counterpart of the British queen, albeit without the crown, castles, and rural estates. That’s what is going to happen, it the Irish say yes to the Lisbon treaty at the beginning of October. If, however, they say no, in 2014 the European Union will look much the same as now. Barroso will remain Europe’s face and continue to pretend that he’s in control of European affairs. EU leaders will keep working to develop another treaty – this time of Berlin, Paris, or Stockholm – in order to “rouse Europe from apathy and face the challenges of globalization“. And the MEPs will keep grumbling that they’re not listened to. Barroso is then in a strange situation: on the one hand, he wholeheartedly supports the Lisbon Treaty, on the other hand, he realizes that once the treaty is adopted, his role as head of the European Commission will be marginal. At first glance, this may look schizophrenic, but don’t be fooled by the appearances… Barroso knows only too well that this game is not about power, but about an extension of a pleasant, well-paid, political love affair.

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