The new president of the European Commission has kicked off his first week in office. Laying aside a fresh controversy over his team, Jose Manuel Barroso has staked out his priorities – making Europe more competitive economically, and striking a balance between social benefits and a flexible labour market.
Barroso’s revamped team was approved by the EU parliament last week after a politically damaging 3-week standoff over a controversial Italian commissioner and other candidates.
But hopes of a reprieve proved to be short-lived when a Eurosceptic British MEP, Nigel Farage, disclosed a past conviction of the French commissioner. Jacques Barrot, who takes on transport, was not obliged to reveal the sentence under French law, but some MEPs believe he should have made it public in the interests of transparency. The Liberal group in the parliament has asked Barrot to stand aside until the row is resolved.