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After a 3 month delay due to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and the speedy replacement of failed Bulgarian Commissioner designate, the Barroso II Commission was approved on 9 February by the European Parliament. Barroso launches his second term as an experienced and politically reinforced president, which enables him to focus more on content and offers him a chance to prove that he is capable to deliver on many of the ambitious goals he previously set during his re-election campaign.
However, the European power-game has changed significantly as two new heavyweight positions have been established by the Lisbon Treaty. Barroso is likely to face a dynamic, self-confident and assertive permanent President at the European Council as Mr. Herman van Rompuy proves to be a positive surprise to many. Although Baroness Catherine Asthon, the double-hatted High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the Commission has a rather pale image so far, the chief of the European External Action service is expected to gain strong influence over Commission affairs in the period ahead.
It is increasingly evident that decision-making at the EU level has become more complex and politically charged than ever. Yet it is to be seen if this more politicised power arrangement will step up to the challenges that EU currently faces. Hopefully, the Commission’s new strategy Europe 2020 will not share the fate of the failed Lisbon Strategy.
Despite this challenging climate, hopes still run high that within the new European Commission the Cypriot Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Multilingualism, Androulla Vassiliou, will find a way to ‘shine’.