The European Movement Denmark has awarded Barroso as “European of the year”. I have to say that I ignore the reasons that led them to this at first surprising -if not shocking- choice but thinking it twice they might not be that wrong…
I would just formulate it otherwise, this year Barroso has been important for Europe but not thanks to himself but despite of himself.
Barroso with his servitude to the European Council, his lack of leadership and his laissez-faire and anti-regulation policy as president of the Commission combined with the economic and financial crisis has managed to find himself in the eye of the hurricane.
He has been campaigning to be reappointed as president of the European Commission with the www.tellbarroso.eu website -paid by the European Parliament- and has been visiting European capitals and even convincing socialists prime-ministers to support him (Zapatero, Brown, Socrates…). He has been successful in raising support for his re-appointment.
At first nobody noticed and nobody cared. The European Socialist Party was doing everything possible to avoid discussing the election of the next Commission president and the other parties were complices in the silence. With the crisis and thanks to the pressure of organisations like the federalists the issue has been climbing positions in the agenda and now the election of the new Commission president is an open topic discussed among socialists –Schulz and Rassmussen are making stronger and stronger declarations– among greens and leftists -with the anti-Barroso alliance- and even among liberals with Verhofstadt also raising his voice in favour of a strong commission president.
So YES! maybe Barroso is the European of the year; because he is the last president of an European Commission designed to talk a lot, do little and stay far from the scrutiny of the public. The crisis has shown the need for a visible and accountable European Executive and how the EU can not afford weak presidents anymore. When the media were looking for the “face of Europe” or the leader that would present the European solution to the crisis they found Barroso, who didn’t have the solution but at least was there for the parties and the citizens to confirm that lowest common denominators might be ok in quiet times but they don’t work in times of troubles.
The newly elected European Parliament will have in its hands the approval of a new Commission and a new EC president and for the first time the parties are starting to behave like European parties, deciding to chose the president of the European executive according to their political ideas and programs and not following corridor deals.
After all, if we look at blogs dealing with European issues -starting with this one you are now reading- the politician that appears more often, 95% of the time as scapegoat for Europe’s problems, is Barroso. What would we do without him? 🙂
We can say that Barroso despite of himself, and in a very peculiar and contradictory way, managed to spice up Europe!
A great step for supranational democracy, thanks Barroso!