A Man and his Times

By James Graff, Brussels – With reporting by Leo Cendrowicz/Brussels, TIME, 20.02.2006

José Manuel Barroso may have the hardest job in Europe, but here's why he thinks he'll prevail

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(...)

Is such optimism warranted? Barroso sees hope for the reform agenda in what he calls a "a courageous reform" by the French government, whose National Assembly last week pushed through a new law designed to encourage firms to hire more young people by allowing companies to easily fire workers under 26 during their first two years on the job. Signs that both the German and French economies are picking up could also give reform a boost. But even if the directive is passed into law, it's hard to believe that Barroso's reputation will be completely cleansed. Even some with no ideological animus against him have judged his leadership ineffectual. "He was viewed originally as a master tactician, but he hasn't managed to become an integrating figure;' says Janis Emmanouilidis, a European integration and policy expert at the Center for Applied Policy Research in Munich.

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