Jose Manuel Durao Barroso

President of the European Commission

(Official Portuguese Government Web Site, AFP, RFE/RL, AP, Reuters)
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Jose Barroso[Getty Images]

Former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso replaced Italy's Romano Prodi as president of the European Commission (EC) on November 1st 2004. The leaders of the EU member states unanimously nominated him for the post at a special summit in Brussels on June 29th 2004, and the European Parliament approved it on July 22nd 2004. Barroso is the 11th EC president since 1958.

Barroso was born in Lisbon on March 23rd 1956. He graduated with a law degree from the University of Lisbon in 1978 and obtained his Master's degree in Economic and Social Sciences from the Geneva University in Switzerland in 1981. He holds a diploma with honours in European Studies, also from Geneva University.

Before Portugal's Carnation Revolution on April 25th 1974, Barroso was a member of the left-wing Reorganising Movement of the Proletarian Party, which he left in 1977. Three years later, he joined the right-of-centre Portuguese Social Democratic Party (PSD). He was first elected president of the PSD in May 1999, and has been re-elected to the post twice since. Also in 1999, Barroso was elected as the vice-president of the European People's Party.

Barroso was tapped as the secretary of state for home affairs in Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva's cabinet in 1985, at the age of 29. In 1987, he was appointed as secretary of state for foreign affairs and co-operation, and served as a key mediator in talks that led to a temporary ceasefire in Angola's 15-year civil war in 1991. In 1992, Barroso became foreign affairs minister -- a post he filled until 1995.

The PSD lost the 1995 elections, and Barroso, who won a parliamentary seat in the vote, headed the assembly's foreign affairs committee. In the 2002 parliamentary elections, the PSD came out first, but failed to garner a clear majority and formed a coalition government with the conservative Popular Party. On April 6th 2002, Barroso was appointed as prime minister.

A cost-cutting reformer, Barroso imposed an austerity programme to reduce Portugal's budget deficit, which made him unpopular at home and found reflection in the results of the 2004 European Parliament elections.

On June 29th 2004, Barroso accepted his nomination to become the next EC president at a time of daunting challenges for the Union.

Besides his native Portuguese, Barroso is also fluent in English, French and Spanish.

He is married and has three children.

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