Rome, Habsburg and the European Union
Barroso: Europe is an empire
Troops from all 27 EU nations marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris, at the invitation of new French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
As might have been expected this exchange was followed by frantic sounds of rowing back - a desperate attempt to unsay what had been said. Too late, the cat was out of the bag.
In other words exactly the reverse of what Mr Barroso and his Communications Commissioner colleague, Margot Wallström, had wanted to emerge from the session.
In vain did Mr Barroso explain that he didn't mean that Europe was an imperial empire, getting its way by force; rather it was a non-imperial empire, based on voluntary consent.
it appears that Mr Barroso - indeed the whole Commission - has not even begun to understand the true nature of the wide unease about the future of Europe - an unease that stems primarily from concerns about a lack of control rather than a lack of communication.
At Tuesday's press conference in Strasbourg, the Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was asked what the European Union would be after the new reform treaty has been negotiated and agreed.
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, together with Vice-President Margot Wallstrom on Tuesday presented the European Commisison's proposal on the upcoming conference that will shape the text of the new EU reform treaty. No suprise there.
His answer startled many of the journalists present. Barroso's spokesman, Johannes Laitenberger, afterwards asked some of them not to pay too much attention to the comments.
The EU is not just any old international organisation, nor is it a superstate,
"What we have is the first non-imperial empire," said the centre-right Mr Barroso, who was formerly Portugal's prime minister.
"We have 27 countries that fully decided to work together and to pool their sovereignty.
Egentligen borde jag vara djupt oroad över att få mina förutfattade meningar bekräftade. Jag vet ju att de brukar vila på bräcklig grund, mer på intuition än på genuin kunskap. I synnerhet blir jag bekymrad om jag får bekräftelser från personer med bättre insikter än vad jag själv besitter.