Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Between Potential, Performance and Prospect: Revisiting the Political Leadership of the EU Commission President

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Abstract:  This contribution argues that although the latest EU treaties formalized the Commission presidency to substantial degree, it remains a constitutionally weak office for the provision of political leadership. The capacity to lead thus still strongly depends on the individual incumbent. As a first step, the article examines the legal-procedural structure of the office before and after the Lisbon Treaty came into force. Secondly, it analyzes the political leadership performance of the Commission president José Barroso in comparison with his predecessor Jacques Delors. In bridging formal institutional rules with concrete performances this article contributes to the understanding of the relationship between structure and agency in international institutions as well as to the growing literature on political leadership in the European Union.

Keywords:  Barroso; Delors; EU Commission president; Lisbon Treaty; performance; political leadership



© Henriette Müller. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.