As you may have heard by now, Portuguese prime minister Jos? Manuel Dur?o Barroso will be the new president of the European commission. He’s a compromise candidate, after Verhofstadt, Patten and like a dozen others were rejected. Some say that’s bad, diminishing his authority, but really the only of his predecessors that weren’t a compromise was Prodi, and that went real well didn’t it?
Another national high level politician, not a commissioner as some had speculated and/or wished for. Prodi’s initial problems had a lot to do with a lack of knowledge of how things worked in Brussels, but Delors and Juncker, also without Brussels experience. didn’t have that problem IIRC, and Prodi were both mediocre for all of his term (Juncker too.)
He’s quite rightwing, a departure from a a quarter century of center-leftists, which will probably make a difference. But the EC is a collective, and the president is under a lot of other constraints, so don’t know how significant. But a deemphasizing of some parts of the agenda in favor of others, certainly.
Atlanticist, was at the Azores with Bush, Blair and Aznar. Has attracted a lot of commentary, but the president has little influence there. I think if anything it illustrates that the transatlantic relationsship is not that important a issue for the EU, and doesn’t drive conflicts. Americans persist in viewing Euro politics in in terms of who’s ‘pro-US’, ‘anti-US’. Am still glad it wasn’t Verhostadt.
CW is that he’s made a good job as PM. Budget rot, avoided the usual Eurozone deficit rot. (Actually it’s only the big countries.)
“Gradual federalist.” Not as ardent as Verhofstadt thankfully. I do want someone who represents his institution forcefully, though maybe not as succesfully as Delors.
“Tenacity, not charisma” says FT. Seems fine for this job. “Unbending reputation” says AP, ie consistently budget hawk and pro-Iraq war in the face of much opposition. Good I guess?
Will Barroso do a better job? Will he even take back some of the authority the EC has lost ocver the last decade? From what little i know, cautious optimism may be justified. But really, no idea. Prodi’s personal qualities that served him well as PM turned out to be the wrong ones for this job. Barroso is much less known than Prodi was then, so how would I know?
Re the last question the weakening of the commission is due to larger forces than Prodi and Juncker’s various failings, and Delors success was really mostly Kohl and Mitterand’s success, so you can argue the’yve gotten a bum rap, but I think they were fairly unimpressive regardless of that, so here’s hoping Barroso will be an improveement.