Sunday

25th Aug 2019

Barroso-II team rated as 'average or below' in its first year

  • Parliament gave its final approval to the college of commissioners on 9 February last year (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has defended his team's performance one year into his second term after a turbulent 12 months dominated by the eurozone debt crisis and the establishment of the EU's new Lisbon Treaty architecture. But a new survey suggests EU insiders are far from impressed with the Barroso-II track record as it currently stands.

Speaking in Brussels on Wednesday evening (9 February), Mr Barroso said the financial and economic crisis had subjected the Lisbon Treaty to an immediate "stress test", acknowledging that member states had at times opted to co-operate amongst themselves, rather than exploit the full capacities of his EU institution.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A European rescue fund agreed last May was primarily 'intergovernmental' in nature, as have been recent Franco-German plans to boost EU competitiveness, while a new system of financial supervisory agencies were clearly 'communautaire' in nature, he noted.

Critics have charged Mr Barroso and his team with being slow to come forward with new initiatives. "The lack of such proposals can only lead to certain member states believing they are better off going it alone," Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the European Parliament's Liberal group, wrote to Mr Barroso on the eve of the commission's one-year anniversary.

A recently-conducted online survey also concluded there was significant room for improvement from the 27-person team, with 62 percent of respondents saying the commission's overall performance was average or below par.

"The Barroso-II team must do better, with considerably more effort," David Earnshaw, chief executive of the Brussels office of multinational lobby outfit Burson-Marsteller, which conducted the study, said on Wednesday while presenting the results.

Individual commissioners were rated according to their 'overall performance' and 'achievement of commitments' by the 324 survey respondents, 25 percent of which identified themselves as 'EU officials'.

Mr Barroso scored an overall 'grade' of 'C+', with a 'D' for commitments. "He's a skillful communicator in many languages ... so he ought to be having more impact. The fact that he isn't shows some of the weaknesses of the man, he doesn't encourage his team to get ahead of the curve," said John Wyles, an advisor to the European Policy Centre think-tank.

EU high representative Catherine Ashton came last on the list with an 'E' in both categories, while her female colleagues justice commissioner Viviane Reding and digital agenda Neelie Kroes topped the poll with 'Bs'.

Criticised for selecting a weak team of officials to support her, speakers at the survey's publication generally agreed however that Ms Ashton's 'double-hatted' job of attending commission meetings and criss-crossing the globe as the EU's top diplomat was simply impossible.

"I think Ashton will probably end this commission as its sacrificial lamb, but even a titan would have had problems," said Mr Wyles.

Public confrontations were considered to have helped Ms Reding's and Ms Kroes' ratings, the former battling with France last year over the government's expulsion of members of its Roma ethnic minority, and the latter with the Hungarian government over its controversial media law.

Supporters of the justice commissioner were quick to jump on the survey's results. "I think it shows that someone from a small member state can make a difference," an official close to Ms Reding told this website in an unsolicited telephone call.

"What people want out of the commission is leadership," crowed the official, pointing to her track record of achievements which includes the setting up of a single area of justice in the EU and initiatives on data protection.

They noted that Ms Reding had a "direct style" and how "Barroso's is different", but refused to be drawn on what the justice commissioner's ambitions for the future might be.

Economy commissioner Olli Rehn and internal market commissioner Michel Barnier both also performed well with an overall 'B', as did competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia with a 'B+'. Humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva gained a 'B-', while the rest of their colleagues largely received 'Cs'.

Investigation

US billionaires funding EU culture war

Conservative US billionaires, some with links to Trump, are paying anti-abortion lobbyists in Europe tens of millions of dollars to shape policy and law.

Investigation

The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

Exclusive

Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings

The German former secretary-general of the European Commission held some 21 meetings which were registered in the lobby register. But no documents appeared to exist summarising what was said.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us