Barroso new EC head.

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.

5 thoughts on “Barroso new EC head.

  1. I was a bit startled skimming Barroso’s credentials (Wiki). I’m just a Yank, but I was wondering if the choice of a startlingly pro-Washington, budget-cutting conservative was actually intended to win some confidence with the main constitutents of the Euro-skeptics? Forgive me for using the convention that treats the EU as one single gigantic country–I know it isn’t, but–Barroso seems to favor the more “conservative” regions of the EU, which are the tough fight. Sort of like the Dems in the USA seeking to take the political center so that the left has no choice but to vote Dem. Likewise, the gamble is that leftwing opponents of the EU aren’t going to be a significant political bloc.

    That’s my hypothesis. Plausible?

  2. Two additional features of Barroso: From a non-founding member state, and from the periphery. Both much to the liking of the Austrian PM, as he said yesterday on TV. The EU periphery seems to have gained in power with the recent enlargement.

    @James: I think it’s simpler than that, there is a conservative majority in the EU parliament, and the impending constitution will demand that the parliamentary majority is respected when choosing the commission president.

  3. He seemed moderately charming on TV last night, which will do no harm.

    James: Y’know, I think Chirac may have endorsed him because he’s a Romance speaker more than because of his politics. That would be in tune with his generally specious reasoning about the other candidates for the post. :-) .

  4. there is a conservative majority in the EU parliament
    That depends on how you count. But to be fair, they are the largest group, and if the parlament was to chose a government on its own, the EC head would most likely be a rather center conservative (or a liberal, if they had some good negotiators).

  5. several possibilities;
    Ok, browser not functioning. That’s why half of the sentences in this article are awkward or unfinished.
    Or, intented as a literary masterpiece. Not suiting considering content?
    It’s reading like a transcript of conversation. I’m not under the impression the author doesn’t know how to write a clear article in English, if so, my apologies.

    What I am trying to say is; is there a translation of your article in plain, clear English for the whole of Europe to understand and enjoy, please?