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Barroso ploughs on despite Barrot effect

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Barroso ploughs on despite Barrot effect

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The new EU Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, is a bit on the defensive, but it didn’t put him off his stride at Europe College in Bruges, Belgium. He told the students, among whom some at least are expected to become EU decision-makers, he was determined to lead a strong and independent Commission.

“We should learn from the recent experience,” he said, in what could be interpreted as referring to the current row over the French member on his team, “in such a way as to build a relationship founded on mutual respect between institutions, a relationship in which, to quote Jacques Delors, the Commission would be neither the Council’s secretariate nor the European Parliament’s executor.” Barroso only learned last Thursday about commissioner Jacques Barrot’s amnestied conviction over a party financing scandal in 2000, which Barrot says he did not feel duty-bound to report. While Barroso is said to be satisfied with the explanation now, as he gets on with his duties, questions about transparency are still simmering in parliament.