Nemški Spiegel špekulira ali je predsednik Evropske komisije Manuel Barroso v ponedeljek res spremenil kurs evropske politike glede varčevanja ali pa je bil k tej izjavi zgolj sprovociran, ker je bil prizadet njegov nacionalni ponos. Spiegel, tako se zdi, bi rad verjel slednje. V nasprotnem primeru se na ravni vodenja EU obetajo precejšnje težave.
Perhaps the perturbation was so great because Barroso is one of the last people expected to make such criticisms. He is thought to be bland and hasn’t earned a reputation for taking clear positions in the euro crisis — much less against German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to whom he owes much of his controversial re-election.
But has Barroso really initiated a major change in course? It wouldn’t be entirely surprising, given that anti-austerity sentiments are growing in many crisis countries, where the recession has shown few signs of lifting. Several days ago, it emerged that a study often quoted by austerity proponents contains major miscalculations.
But at the European Commission, no one wants to hear about a turning point. Barroso certainly wasn’t talking about putting an end to austerity or taking on new debts, officials in Brussels are saying. He was merely suggesting that there should be a stronger emphasis on growth, something that should come from structural reforms and targeted use of EU subsidies, they say.
In his debate in Brussels, it’s possible that the question asked by the panel’s host momentarily injured Barroso’s pride as a Portuguese and Southern European man, and that he offered his fellow nationals the prospect of easing austerity measures in response.
According to a transcript of the think tank discussion swiftly released by the Commission in response to the media furore, panel host Matina Stevis ridiculed the Commission for not taking enough action. She accused Barroso and his fellow commissioners of limiting their work in the crisis to making sure that crisis countries obeyed the European treaties.
“It means nothing to an Athenian that you are the guardian of the Treaty,” Stevis said. “The treaty means nothing. You are to be the guardian of that citizen, of your compatriot in Lisbon.” The panel host made clear that her comments were directed at Barroso. “That is an existential moment for you, sir,” she said.
The transcript indicates that Barroso then explained in detail why contracts actually are important. The violation of them, he reminded his audience, is what led to the crisis in the first place. It was after that point that he made the statements that are now being widely interpreted as signs that Barroso is turning away from the EU’s austerity path. In Monday’s conversation, it is likely that not only Barroso’s nationality played a role in the discussion, but also that of Stevis, a Greek national who is a journalist with Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal.