Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Je ne regrette rien

So says Jose Manuel Barroso, recorded for prosperity in The Independent today.

Actually, that was what he meant, but his actual phrasing was a lot more pedestrian: I made the right choices for European Commission, was what he did say, adding, that he had no regrets over his handling of a dramatic showdown with MEPs last month. And, after a robust defence of Jacques "Wheel" Barrot, Barroso claimed he had made "absolutely the right choices at all moments" over Italy's Rocco Buttiglione.

No doubt the new icon for the EU is to become Tammy Wynette, as Mr Barroso went on to say: "I support 100 per cent all my commissioners." One can almost hear the strains of "Stand by your man", now clearly up for adoption as the EU anthem.

Obviously, Mr Barroso has many faults, but being wrong is not one of them, as he then affirmed by rejected the notion that the Buttiglione saga illustrated an autocratic style of leadership.

"I am not the best person to judge," he said, "but you are going to discover that I am not at all that kind of person. I listen a lot. I am not at all an autocratic person."

Says The Independent, many MEPs believe the Commission president should have acted more quickly to defuse the gathering crisis but Mr Barroso insisted that axing or reshuffling Mr Buttiglione earlier would have infuriated centre-right MEPs, creating a separate problem.

Of course, upsetting MEPs is never a good idea… they might turn round and do, er.. absolutely nothing – if you are a French transport commissioner, this is.

Not that this troubles Barroso. He is far too busy proving he is never wrong: "I would have no problem at all saying ‘no it was a mistake. I don't know the parliament well, I know much better my [national] parliament’. I would have no problem admitting it. But the fact was that was that, from the very beginning, I could see what had happened, I was considering the possibility of a no vote from the very beginning."

You see… he is never wrong. We are going to have some fun with this one.

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