This week's scorecard in the other European Championship - the battle for influence between member states and the European Commission - records another reverse for the Barroso team.

Jean-Claude Juncker, currently captaining the member states' line-up, led his team to a clear victory in this week's away fixture at the Council of Ministers' Justus Lipsius stadium.

At stake in this match was the role of the Commission in overseeing how member states keep their public finances under control in a reformed stability and growth pact. The compromise tabled by Juncker is aimed at depriving the Commission of the right to show the red card to member states whenever their deficits exceed the 3% limit.

Instead, offenders will be allowed to play on as long as they can cite extenuating factors such as slow economic growth or the need for spending on defence or research. The only constraint will be peer pressure from other member states - in effect, allowing team members to judge if one of their colleagues should be sent off for a deliberate foul. And given the recent heavy-booted performance of the large member states, this is unlikely to guarantee fair play.

The Commission's tactical defence - an offer of some flexibility for governments to spend in periods of recession, and some encouragement for strengthening their budget positions in periods of growth - was easily outplayed by the...

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