The President of the European Union’s executive body is expected to remain in the job. Though critics say he has placed free markets ahead of Europe’s social needs, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso calls himself a reformist.
He was a Maoist party member after the 1974 revolution in his native Portugal which did away with the dictatorship. His international academic qualifications include law and economic and social sciences. In 1980, Barroso joined what was to become the Social Democratic Party — conservative. He would hold several posts in government, rising to Minister of Foreign Affairs, and then Prime Minister. He backed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, hosting a Bush-Blair Atlantic alliance summit in the Azores. Then-British Premier Tony Blair supported his candidature to become President of the EU Commission in 2004, when better-known figures dropped out of the race, and Barroso has steered EU policy priorities to mixed reviews. Major enlargement of the bloc has happened on his watch, yet it has been marred by the constitution failure. Ultimately, his supporters credit Barroso for his diplomatic success and for nudging governments away from unbridled protectionism as Europe was caught up in the global recession.