Barroso's autocratic decision to reshuffle more than 30 of the Commission's top management posts has irritated many Commissioners who felt excluded from the process. But he claims his sweeping redistribution of key roles among senior officials will help attain his "ambitious objectives". It is a clear attempt by the Commission President to stamp his authority on the institution he runs, and particularly in important areas such as trade, transport, and energy.

But for all the excitement in the smart bars of Brussels, and for all Barroso's claims of fulfilling his mandate, the reshuffle can only be a small part of confronting the challenges that this Commission and the European Union itself faces.

The list of unresolved problems grows longer by the day. Barroso's own chosen warhorse of European competitiveness is mired in circular debates over the social model and globalisation. Major legislative initiatives such as cross-border services, safety of chemicals or patents stagger from crisis to crisis, suffer dilution, or sink without a trace.

Even the Commission's just-announced plan for enlargement admits to being on the edge of feasibility. And repeated commitments to better communication ring increasingly hollow as successive efforts offer new depths of banality and ineptitude.

More profound failures persist on securing EU agreement on its finances, its constitutional basis, the management of its currency, or...

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