Durão durará mais cinco
Senhor Charles Grant, eu gosto muito do seu programa – e do seu think tank. Enquanto especialista liberal em questões europeias, o que pensa da possiblidade da reeleição de Durão Barroso?
“Barroso is prepared to stick his neck out on the issues that he thinks matter, and in my view he has chosen the right priorities. First, he has focused on the “Lisbon agenda” of economic reform, which is about raising Europe’s long-term rate of growth. This sets targets in areas like getting more women and older people into the workforce, boosting R&D, extending broadband internet access, removing obstacles to the creation of new companies, and deregulating energy, telecoms and transport markets. Although many of the Lisbon targets require action from national governments, the EU has made good progress towards some of them.
Second, Barroso has driven forward the EU’s climate change agenda. He brokered the deal last December by which the 27 member-states committed to reducing carbon emissions by 20%, and obtaining 20% of their energy from renewable sources, by 2020. He battled hard to overcome the resistance of difficult governments such as those in Berlin, Madrid and Warsaw, and the final package, for all its compromises, gives the EU a credible position at the Copenhagen climate conference in December.
Third, Barroso has understood the strategic importance of energy security. Last January, when the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine left much of Europe in the cold, he led the diplomacy that ultimately succeeded in pushing Moscow and Kiev to compromise. He has persuaded EU governments to put money and effort into the proposed Nabucco pipeline that would bring gas from the Caspian region and lessen Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.
One reason why so many people in France and Germany dislike Barroso is that they view him as a creature of the British. It is true that he is an Atlanticist and an economic liberal, who backs enlargement and avoids grand federalist projects. Not since Roy Jenkins has there been a commission president so in tune with British priorities. So it is ironic that columnists in two of Britain’s leading pro-European newspapers, the Financial Times and the Guardian, have been such vocal opponents of Barroso.
He is a more effective president than his two immediate predecessors, Romano Prodi and Jacques Santer. It helps that he is a skilled communicator in six languages. Of course, there are other people who could do the job very well. One of those is Pascal Lamy, a former commissioner and aide to Delors, who now heads the World Trade Organisation. Lamy tempers his commitment to European integration with a steely pragmatism and is very tough. But he is a socialist. Given that so few heads of government are centre-left, and given that the socialists were decimated in the European elections, Lamy has no chance of the job. The next president needs the approval of the European council and of the parliament, and of those who stand a credible chance of winning their support, Barroso is the most committed to the kind of openness that Europe needs.”
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