Tag Archives: Jose Manuel Barroso

“This is Europe’s moment of truth”

7 Sep

state of the union

State of the Union address

From the romantic:

Europe is not only Brussels or Strasbourg. It is our regions. It is the cities, towns and villages you come from. When you walk round your constituencies, you can point to the European projects that are so important for their prosperity. At the end of the day, we are all in the same boat.

To the historic:

I make a strong appeal not to re-awaken the ghosts of Europe’s past.

To the rallying:

The citizens of Europe expect us to take the action needed to get out of this crisis… It is not with pessimism that we will win this battle.

José Manuel Barroso’s message was clear: You need me.

Yes, there were policy statements and announcements of new initiatives but what really came through was how the president of the European Commission wanted us all to see how indispensible he is.

It suits the message if the situation we face is portrayed as bleak. This, of course, is nothing new in politics. Except this time, the bogeyman is those people who do not buy into the European ideal.

“We either swim together, or sink separately,” he said today. “We will only succeed if, whether acting nationally, regionally or locally, we think European.”

Replace European with “German” or “British” or “Swedish”, or indeed any other nationality, and it sounds ridiculous.

It shows that this isn’t Europe’s “moment of truth” as Barroso put it today, rather yet another occasion when the EU has had to justify its existence.

Q. State of the Union?  A. Still uncertain.

President’s desperate PR fightback

6 Sep

Barosso

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

It is bizarre that, at a time when the purpose of the EU’s institutions are being called into question more than ever, the president of the European Commission decides to introduce a US-style “State of the Union” address.

Rather than use tomorrow’s opportunity merely to set out the priorities for the year ahead, José Manuel Barroso’s PR move looks to owe more to style than substance.

The institutions of the EU face the biggest threat to their power since their creation. Member state governments are increasingly regaining the role of Europe’s navigators.

But, rather than analyse the reasons for this, or try to get to grips with Europe’s pressing issues, Barroso’s move aims to put the commission – and himself personally – back on centre stage.

Like a man whose marriage is in difficulty, he’s going out on the town, drinking with his mates, flirting with women, putting on a brave face and trying to prove he’s still got it — rather than staying at home to work out what is wrong.

But it will strike a discordant note with Europe’s citizens who no longer see the relevance of this type of posturing.

The State of the Union address will no doubt play well to the chattering classes who live in the Brussels bubble and see the strengthening of the European Commission as its main raison-d’etre.

But to the those people protesting on the streets of Athens, those in London who view the EU with scepticism, those in Berlin who are worried about the strength of the economy, they will hear Mr Barroso and ask: Why this? Why now?

That’s if they even listen at all.

September is here and Johnny is back!

3 Sep

Back to schoolYes, rejuvenated after lying on the beach sipping cocktails for a month with Mrs Erasmus, I’m back to walk the corridors of European power.

What has been going on in Brussels during my absence? Anything much?

Belgium hasn’t got its own government but still holds the presidency of the EU, attempts to bring in some sort of regulation in the financial sector look to have been successful and France has begun expelling groups of Roma people back to Hungary and Romania.  Meanwhile, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso is going all American and making the first European “State of the Union” address next week.

What fun.

Join me from Monday for more daily news from Brussels.

Hold the front page!

1 Jul
The end of the world is nigh

Newspapers want help

How ironic it is that the boss of a British newspaper that frequently spreads xenophobic myths about Europe is begging Brussels for help.

Yes, the Daily Mail, whose Sunday sister title broke the made-up story that the EU is going to ban selling eggs by the dozen, wants European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to urgently address the print media’s problems of declining profits.

Representatives of the Daily Mail and other papers across Europe told Barroso that the EU needs to open up the advertising market and take action against news aggregator websites so newspapers can charge people to read content more easily – something which the pressmen said the EU should help promote.

(Incidentally, you might like to know that the Daily Mail and General Trust, which owns the paper, made operating profits in the six months to April this year of £144m (about €175m.))

Newspapers such as the Daily Mail have spent buckets of newsprint year after year vilifying representatives of some industries, such as farmers and fishermen, for relying too heavily on EU subsidies.

It’s a bit rich that they want the EU to help out now.

And from Barroso’s stilted response it doesn’t sound like the European Commission is going to go out of its way to offer assistance.

And neither should it.

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