José Manuel Durão Barroso (born 23 March 1956) is the 11th and current President of the European Commission and a Portuguese politician. He served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 6 April 2002 to 17 July 2004.
Durão Barroso (as he is known in Portugal) graduated in Law from the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon and has an MSc in Economic and Social Sciences from the University of Geneva (Institut Européen de l'Université de Genève) in Switzerland. His academic career continued as an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon. He did research for a PhD at Georgetown University and Georgetown's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. but his CV does not list any doctoral degree (except honorary). He is a 1998 graduate of the Georgetown Leadership Seminar. Back in Lisbon, Barroso became Director of the Department for International Relations at Lusíada University (Universidade Lusíada). He received honorary degrees from many Universities listed under honorary degrees.
Barroso's political activity began in his late teens, during the Estado Novo regime in Portugal, before the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974. In his college days, he was one of the leaders of the underground Maoist MRPP (Reorganising Movement of the Proletariat Party, later PCTP/MRPP, Communist Party of the Portuguese Workers/Revolutionary Movement of the Portuguese Proletariat). In an interview with the newspaper Expresso, he said that he had joined MRPP to fight the only other student body movement, also underground, which was controlled by the Portuguese Communist Party. Despite this justification there is a very famous political 1976 interview recorded by the Portuguese state-run television channel — RTP, in which Barroso, as a politically minded student during the post-Carnation Revolution turmoil known as PREC, criticises the bourgeois education system which "throws students against workers and workers against students." In December 1980, Barroso joined the right-of-centre PPD (Democratic Popular Party, later PPD/PSD-Social Democratic Party), where he remains to the present day.
In 1985, under the PSD government of Aníbal Cavaco Silva (now President of Portugal), Barroso was named Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs. In 1987 he became a member of the same government as he was elevated to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (answering to the Minister of Foreign Affairs), a post he was to hold for the next five years. In this capacity he was the driving force behind the Bicesse Accords of 1990, which led to a temporary armistice in the Angolan Civil War between the ruling MPLA and the opposition UNITA. He also supported independence for East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, then a province of Indonesia by force. In 1992, Barroso was promoted to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, and served in this capacity until the defeat of the PSD in the 1995 general election.
In opposition, Barroso was elected to the Assembly of the Republic in 1995 as a representative for Lisbon. There, he became chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In 1999 he was elected president of his political party, PSD, succeeding Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (a professor of law), and thus became Leader of the Opposition. Parliamentary elections in 2002 gave the PSD enough seats to form a coalition government with the right-wing Portuguese People's Party, and Barroso subsequently became Prime Minister of Portugal on 6 April 2002. As Prime Minister, facing a growing budget deficit, he made a number of difficult decisions and adopted strict reforms. He vowed to reduce public expenditure, which made him unpopular among leftists and public servants. His purpose was to lower the public budget deficit to a 3% target (according to the demands of EU rules), and official data during the 2002–2004 period stated that the target was being attained. Barroso did not finish his term as he had been nominated as President of the European Commission on 5 July 2004. Barroso arranged with Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio to nominate Pedro Santana Lopes as a substitute Prime Minister of Portugal. Santana Lopes led the PSD/PP coalition for a few months until early 2005, when new elections were called. When the Portuguese Socialist Party won the elections it produced an estimation that by the end of the year the budget deficit would reach 6.1%, which it used to criticise Barroso's and Santana Lopes's economic policies.
In 2003, Barroso hosted U.S President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar in the Portuguese island of Terceira, in the Azores. The four leaders finalised the controversial US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Under Barroso's leadership, Portugal became part of the "coalition of the willing" for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, sending non-combat troops.
n 2004, the proposed European Constitution and now the Treaty of Lisbon included a provision that the choice of President must take into account the result of Parliamentary elections and the candidate supported by the victorious Europarty in particular. That provision was not in force in the nomination in 2004, but the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), who won the elections, pressured for a candidate from its own ranks. In the end, José Manuel Barroso, the EPP candidate, was chosen by the European Council.
On the same basis, the EPP again endorsed Barroso for a second term during the 2009 European election campaign and, after the EPP again won the elections, was able to secure his nomination by the European Council on 17 June 2009. On 3 September 2009, Barroso unveiled his manifesto for his second term. On 16 September 2009, Barroso was re-elected by the European Parliament for another five years. If he completes his second term he will become only the second Commission president to serve two terms, after Jacques Delors.
During his first presidency, the following important issues were on the Commission's agenda:
- Turkey applying for EU membership
- The reform of the institutions (Treaty of Lisbon)
- The Bolkestein directive, aimed at creating a single market for services within the EU
- Lisbon Strategy
- Galileo positioning system
- Doha Development Agenda negotiations
- European Institute of Innovation and Technology
- An EU climate change package
On 12 September 2012 Barroso has called for the EU to evolve into a "federation of nation-states". Addressing the EU parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Barroso said such a move was necessary to combat the continent's economic crisis. He said he believed Greece would be able to stay in the eurozone if it stood by its commitments. Mr Barroso also set out plans for a single supervisory mechanism for all banks in the eurozone.In 2005 Die Welt reported that Barroso had spent a week on the yacht of the Greek shipping billionaire Spiro Latsis. It emerged soon afterwards that this had occurred only a month before the Commission approved 10 million euros of Greek state aid for Latsis's shipping company – though the state aid decision had been taken by the previous European Commission before Barroso took up his post. In response to this revelation, Nigel Farage MEP of the UK Independence Party persuaded around 75 MEPs from across the political spectrum to back a motion of no confidence in Barroso, so as to compel him to appear before the European Parliament to be questioned on the matter. The motion was tabled on 12 May 2005, and Barroso appeared before Parliament as required at a debate on 26 May 2005. The motion itself was heavily defeated.
In response to criticism for his choice of a less fuel efficient Volkswagen Touareg, amid EU legislation of targets drastically to reduce car CO2 emissions, Barroso dismissed this as "overzealous moralism".
In April 2008, amid sharp food price rises and mounting food vs fuel concerns, Barroso insisted that biofuel use was "not significant" in pushing up food prices. The following month, he announced a study that would look into the issue. The backdoor approval of the GE potato, by President Barroso, has met a wave of strong opposition from EU member-states. The governments of Greece, Austria, Luxembourg, Italy, Hungary and France have all publicly announced that they will not allow the GE potato to be grown in their countries.
Barroso has expressed criticism of national governments arguing "Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.