David Cronin
The Guardian
November 27, 2009

It is little wonder that José Manuel Barroso is seldom seen without a grin on his face these days. For the European commission chief is one of the luckiest guys in international politics. First, the appointment of a low-profile Belgian as the EU’s first permanent president has meant that Barroso will be able to keep on behaving as if he is the most powerful man in Brussels. And now, it looks likely that Barroso won’t need to lose any sleep about assembling his new team of commissioners (even if they don’t formally start work until January, a few months later than originally expected).

Theoretically, it’s still possible that MEPs will cause him difficulties as they did in 2004, when they objected to the nomination of Rocco Buttiglione as justice commissioner because the Italian equated homosexuality with sin. The signals from the European parliament have been that if it wanted to embarrass Barroso this time around, it would take issue with the grotesque gender imbalance in the EU executive. However, the probability of this happening has lessened in the past few days as the final composition of his 27-strong team emerged. It features nine women – one more than the outgoing commission.

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