PositionJose Manuel Barroso

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's long-awaited strategy for the next five years - to be unveiled on January 26 - contains few surprises. His plan, "Europe 2010: A Partnership for European Renewal", focuses on revitalising the Lisbon strategy, on the need for "solidarity" with the EU's poorer regions, on European citizens' security in the face of terrorism and organised crime, on food safety, and on conditions for sea, air and road travellers.

There is a notable absence of any broader vision, of any inspiring themes or goals to match the creation of the single market under Delors, or the launch of the Euro under Santer, or even the Prodi challenge of delivering the EU's biggest enlargement on time. In part this is due to Barroso's destiny in presiding over a period of digestion - assimilating ten new member states, and convincing Europe's citizens to endorse the political ambitions that heads of government have signed up to in the Constitution.

But there are other reasons too. His initial insistence on greater competitiveness, reinforced by his appointment of conspicuously liberal free marketers in key positions such as competition and the single market, has run into resistance. Political pressure from Socialist Commissioners and MEPs, and even from Luxembourg Prime Minister...

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