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24 October 2004

José Manuel Durão Barroso

Hard Nose
Incoming European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso has stared down soldiers and tamed Portugal's budget. His greatest challenge lies ahead
By Karen Lowry Miller


When Barroso's first transition adviser, Brussels insider Mario David, heard that Barroso might have a rough go in parliamentary approval hearings, David insisted that the normally closed sessions be made public. This played to Barroso's strengths: he fielded questions in several languages, made self-deprecating jokes and won the M.E.P.s over by a vote of 413 to 251.

Europe soon got a hint of what Barroso is made of when it came to selecting his commission. The big powers, including France, Germany, Britain and Italy, demanded the posts governing internal markets or competition, which will be critical to the reform process. So Barroso denied them all and gave the posts to small countries. He spoke personally to the leaders of all the European member states about their nominees, and, he says, insisted that at least three change their choices. "Voices were raised," says a close aide. Yet so deft was Barroso's bargaining, even the French and Germans insist they are now pleased. One suspects he will settle the Buttiglione brouhaha just as easily. As for his broader agenda, Tim Evans, a prominent liberal analyst, says that "once or twice a century you get a politician who makes a profound difference," and that Barroso "could just have the sheer will to change the direction of Europe." The moment is right. Is the man?

(Newsweek)

Our ex-prime minister seems to have his work cut out for him!

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