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Barroso Accepts Top EU Job
Armed with a powerful portfolio, Portugal's PM is aiming for gradual European integration
Alexander Krabbe (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2004-07-01 15:50 (KST)   
Jose Manuel Durao Barroso
©2004 CEGER
At an evening meeting in Brussels on June 29, European Union leaders decided on Jose Manuel Durao Barroso as the new president of the European Commission. He follows the Italian Romano Prodi, who became president in 1999 after his predecessor, Jacques Santer, was forced to resign over charges of nepotism and financial mismanagement.

Barroso, who is also the prime minister of Portugal, claims to be a convinced conservative with a heart for the interests of the smaller member-states of the European Union. Born in 1956, his first political experience took place in the Portuguese "Revolution of Cloves" in 1974, which marked the return of Portugal to democracy.

First acting as a Maoist during his student days he later changed political view and became member of the PSD, the conservative Social Democratic Party of Portugal. There he worked his way up from secretary of state to become Portugal's foreign minister in 1992. He became prime minister in 2002.

After weeks of dissent in the EU, Barroso's recent step to the most important office of the European Union in the end was accompanied by much agreement and few concerns.

The only problem most Europeans seem to have with him is his name, which is hard to spell. Due to this language barrier his first official words as EU president were: "Just call me Barroso!" Certainly this will be the only problem with language in connection to the new president. Besides his mother tongue Portuguese, he also speaks fluent Spanish, English and French.

The president of the European Commission leads an office of 24,000 employees. The commission is the engine of the European community.

The EU is run by five institutions, each with a specific role. The European Parliament is elected by the citizens of the member states; the Council of the Union is composed of the governments of the member states); the Court of Justice oversees compliance with the law; the Court of Auditors is in charge of proper management of the EU budget; and the European Commission is the EU's executive body.

It is charged with proposing the wording of laws and discloses them to the EU Parliament as well as to the EU Council. It upholds European law, guarantees the keeping of the European contracts and is responsible for international contracts on trade and cooperation.

With regard to the charges by angry European citizens about a lack of democratic accountability within the institutions of the European Union and the growing influence of the EU Commission, there are several proposals being tendered on a direct election of the EU president by the EU Parliament or the European citizens themselves.

On July 20 the EU Parliament will only have the ability to confirm or veto the decision of the EU leaders.

Overview of the New EU Leader

Jose Manuel Durao Barroso's profile

  • Born in Lisbon on March 23, 1956
  • Married, father of three children
  • Fluent in several European languages
  • Economic liberal who supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq
  • Strong Atlanticist
  • Advocates gradual European integration with a special eye to the needs of small member states who make up the majority of EU countries

  • Honours in Law by the Law School (1978), Lisbon University ("Licenciatura", 5 years graduate studies).
  • Master in Political Science with honours (1981) by the Department of Political Science of the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, Geneva University, Switzerland.
  • Diploma with honours (1982) in European Studies by the European University Institute, Geneva University.
  • Lecturer at the Law School of the Lisbon University, Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the Geneva University and "Visiting Researcher" at Georgetown University (Washington D.C.).
  • Head of the Department of International Relations, Universidade Lusiada, Lisbon (1995-1999).
  • Visiting Professor at Georgetown University (Washington D.C.), Department of Government, School for Foreign Service, from 1996 to 1998.
  • Guest Lecturer of Political Science, Law School, Lisbon University.
  • Professor of International Relations, Universidade Lusiada, Lisbon.
  • Editor of the Revista de Ciencia Politica.
  • Published two books (Sistema de Governo e Sistema Partidario, co-author, Lisbon, 1980 and Le systeme politique portugais face a l'integration europeenne, Lausanne 1983) and several articles on Political Science and International Relations on different Portuguese and international academic journals, collective books and encyclopaedia (among them: Analise Social, Il Politico, Polis
  • Enciclopedia Verbo da Sociedade e do Estado, Dictionnaire International du Federalisme).

    Political Career
  • Secretary of State of Home Affairs (1985-1987).
  • Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (1987-1992).
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (November 1992 until October 1995).
  • Prime Minister since April 6th 2002.
  • Member of Parliament, Lisbon constituency in l985 and Viseu constituency in July l987 and October l991. Member of Parliament, Lisbon constituency in October 1995, October 1999 and March 2002.
  • Chairman of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Portuguese Parliament from November 1995 to November 1996.
  • Member of the National Council of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Chairman of its Department for International Relations.
  • Elected President of PSD on the XXII Congress, May 1999. Re-elected President of PSD on the XXIII Congress, February 2000 and on the XXIV Congress, July 2002.
  • Elected President of Municipal Assembly of Valpacos, January 2002.
  • Elected Vice-President of EPP (European People's Party), July 1999.
  • Co-Chairman of Pan-European Forum (the EPP/EDU body for relations with the Republics of the former Soviet Union), January 2001.
  • Elected Vice-President of CDI (Christian/Center Democratic International), Mexico City, November 2001.
  • Leader of International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 1996.
  • Advisor of UN to the Project for Peace Process in Africa (Tanzania), October 1997. / Government of the Portuguese Republic
  • Alexander Krabbe is a German medical student at Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald, Pomerania.
    ©2004 OhmyNews

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