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José Manuel Barroso

José Manuel Durão Barroso (born 23 March 1956) is the 12th President of the European Commission. He served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 6 April 2002 to 17 July 2004. He assumed the position in the Commission 23 November 2004.

Academic career

He holds two nationalities, Portuguese and Brazilian (Portuguese by both jus sanguinis and jus soli and Brazilian by jus sanguinis). He graduated in Law from the University of Lisbon (Universidade de Lisboa) and has an MSc in Economic and Social Sciences from the University of Geneva (Institut Européen de l'Université de Genève) in Switzerland. His academic career continued as an Assistant Professor in the Law School of the University of Lisbon. He did research for a Ph.D at Georgetown University and Georgetown's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C.. He is a 1998 graduate of the Georgetown Leadership Seminar. Back in Lisbon, Barroso became Director of the Department for International Relations at Lusíada University (Universidade Lusíada). He also received an honorary degree from Liverpool University on the 3rd of July 2008.

Early political career

Barroso's political activity began in his college days, before the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974. He was one of the leaders of the underground Maoist MRPP (Reorganising Movement of the Proletariat Party, later PCTP/MRPP-Communist Party of the Portuguese Workers/Revolutionary Movement of the Portuguese Proletariat). In an interview with the newspaper Expresso, he said that he had joined MRPP to fight the only other student body movement, also underground, which was controlled by the Communist Party. In December 1980, Barroso joined the right-of-centre PPD (Democratic Popular Party, later PPD/PSD-Social Democratic Party), where he remains to the present day.

In 1985, under the PSD government of Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva (now President of Portugal), Barroso was named Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs. In 1987 he became a member of the same government as he was elevated to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (answering to the Minister of Foreign Affairs), a post he was to hold for the next five years. In this capacity he was the driving force behind the Bicesse Accords of 1990, which led to a temporary armistice in Angola's civil war between the ruling MPLA and the opposition UNITA guerrillas of Jonas Savimbi. He also supported independence for East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, then a province of Indonesia by force. In 1992, Barroso was promoted to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, and served in this capacity until the defeat of the PSD in the 1995 general election.

Prime Minister of Portugal

In opposition, Barroso was elected to the Assembly of the Republic in 1995 as a representative for Lisbon. There, he became chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In 1999 he was elected president of his political party, PSD, succeeding Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (a professor of law), and thus became Leader of the Opposition. Parliamentary elections in 2002 gave the PSD enough seats to form a coalition government with the right-wing Portuguese People's Party, and Barroso subsequently became Prime Minister of Portugal on 6 April 2002. As Prime Minister, facing a growing budget deficit, he made a number of difficult decisions and adopted strict reforms. He reduced public expenditure, which made him unpopular among leftists and public servants. On July 5 2004, having become President-designate of the European Commission, Barroso arranged with Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio the terms of the cessation of his job as Prime Minister of Portugal.

In 2003, Barroso hosted U.S President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar in the Portuguese Island of Terceira, in the Azores, in which the four leaders met and finalised the controversial U.S-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Under Barroso's leadership, Portugal became part of the coalition of the willing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

President of the European Commission

In June 2004, following his being proposed as a consensus candidate by the European People's Party, the European Council appointed José Manuel Barroso President-designate of the European Commission. 22 July, the European Parliament endorsed him in the position by 413 votes to 251, with 44 blank ballots and three spoiled ones. He was due to take over officially from Romano Prodi on 1 November. This process was however delayed until 23 November due to problems regarding parliamentary approval of the Barroso Commission.

During his presidency, the following important issues have been on the Commission's agenda:

Personal life

Son of Luís António Saraiva Barroso (b. Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Ana, June 22, 1922), of some minor rural nobility descent, and wife (married at the Igreja Matriz of Peso da Régua, February 4, 1952) Maria Elisabete de Freitas Durão (b. Vila Real, Folhadela, December 19, 1922), José Manuel Barroso married at the Lisbon Cathedral, Lisbon, on September 28, 1980 to Maria Margarida Pinto Ribeiro de Sousa Uva, born in Lisbon, Santa Maria de Belém, on November 25, 1955, with whom he has three sons: Luís (currently studying for a PhD in Law at the London School of Economics), Guilherme and Francisco de Sousa Uva Durão Barroso.

Apart from his mother tongue, Barroso is professionally fluent in French, he speaks Spanish and English and has taken a course to acquire a basic knowledge of German.


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