José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president who wants to be reappointed next year to a second five-year term, has in recent days received two important but somewhat curious endorsements. The first was from Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, who has been sharply and publicly at odds with Barroso over the European Central Bank’s policies and over the European Commission’s handling of world trade negotiations.
The second was from Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister. The areas of potential or actual conflict between Italy and the EU are numerous to list here. But among them are Italian state aid to the near-bankrupt airline Alitalia, a rubbish collection crisis in Naples, and the treatment – or mistreatment - of Italy’s gypsy population.