European Press Review: Reassuring Boldness | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 13.08.2004
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European Press Review: Reassuring Boldness

European papers on Friday commented on the new European Commission, which was announced by the body's future president, Jose Barroso, on Thursday.

Many papers were pleasantly surprised by Barroso's choices. "The European Commission's new president has shown bold political judgement," The British Independent began its editorial. It went on to praise Barroso's success in balancing the various interests which have to be taken into account -- for example, all 24 countries want their commissioners to get important jobs but there are only about six important jobs to give hand out. The biggest surprise though was that his new commissioners for competition and the internal market will come from the Netherlands and Ireland respectively. "Both are areas in which the French and the Germans have repeatedly clashed with the outgoing commission in pursuit of their own narrow national interests," the daily wrote. "This was Barroso's boldest demonstration of the independence so vital to his role and as such it is reassuring."

The Milan paper Corriere della Sera said that if Barroso intended to prevent the big countries from continuing to look like they run the EU Commission, then he's hit his target in the center. He's made one thing clear: The small countries will not be sacrificed for the big and there won't be any first and second class commissioners, the paper wrote. That would be a revolution for the Brussels institutions -- "but are we really about to see such a change," the paper asked.

The Dutch paper de Volkskrant also praised Barroso's decision to award important jobs to commissioners from smaller countries like the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark and Latvia. It noted that important positions in the financial and economic fields have gone to politicians from countries which have an open economic policy and which have carried out more robust reforms than Germany or France. Altogether, there are more winners than losers in Barroso's commission, the paper continued. But the big winner is Barroso himself, the paper concluded. In Brussels, De Standaard looked at how the German commissioner fared. The Germans said they wanted their man, Günter Verheugen, to become a kind of super-commissioner with responsibility for economics and industry and the right to tell the other commissioners what to do. Barroso made it clear that he wasn't going to let anyone else decide who was going to be in his team, the daily wrote: Now he's shown that you can't play around with him. But he also kept his eye on maintaining a balance between the big countries and the small, the paper continued and noted that it doesn't mean that he left the big countries out in the rain. Verheugen becomes one of the commission's vice presidents and commissioner for enterprise and industry, which the paper calls "a small concession to Germany."

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