PositionJose Manuel Barroso

The early days of every new Commission are marked by some jockeying for position within the new team, as new arrivals grow impatient and seek to raise their profiles. So the last few weeks have seen a wave of individual initiatives by individual Commissioners.

This is all the more understandable in the Commission of President Jose Manuel Barroso, because it has had a particularly slow start. But some more worrying trends have been emerging.

A turf war has broken out over merger and state aid policy, opposing Germany's Commission Vice-President for Enterprise, Gunther Verheugen, and Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes from the Netherlands. There is evidence that Verheugen is arguing for easier application of the EU's competition and state aid rules, so as to foster the growth of "European champions".

When Barroso was forming this Commission he held out against demands from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder to create a "super-Commissioner" with powers over all areas of economic and single market policy. Now it seems that Verheugen is trying to recreate that post for himself and muscling in on Ms Kroes's responsibilities.

Both Barroso and Ms Kroes have this week asserted their belief in the merits of European champions - but the important qualification is that any champions should emerge from...

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