Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Will the real Señhor Barroso please stand up (reprise)

Well, does he or doesn’t he? Believe in the free market, I mean. Absolutely impossible to tell.

My colleague has already described how Commission President Barroso seemed to give in to the pressure exerted by the big cats, France and Germany, on the subject of the services directive and made mewing noises about the need to ensure that there is no social dumping (free competition to you and me).

It seems, however, that, still speaking to the Lisbon Council, he also explained that actually he was in favour of freeing up the services sector and thought growth and employment were more important for the future welfare of Europe than the protection of the present benefits.

He is, of course, at the same time fighting what will turn out to be an interesting battle to raise the contribution of various countries to the EU budget in order that more EU projects be carried out and, at the very least, more money be transferred from the nominally richer to the nominally poorer countries.

In an eerie reminder of his Marxist past, Barroso told his audience that the fight for the fulfilment of the single market, which is not precisely the same as a free market but comes closer than many of the present arrangements, is not a right-left divide but a dispute between reactionaries and progressives.

Very nice, too, but which side is Señhor Barroso going to be on? Or does this depend on the day of the week or, even, the number of minutes into a speech?

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