José Manuel Barroso

President, European Commission (2004-2014) and Prime Minister, Portugal (2002-2004)

Exclusively WSB

José Manuel Durão Barroso’s career in politics began in 1980 when he joined the Social Democratic Party (PSD). He was first elected to the Portuguese parliament in 1985 and was re-elected six times thereafter. In 1999 he was elected President of the PSD and re-elected three times. During the same period, he served as Vice President of the European People's Party. As State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation he played a key role as mediator of the peace accords for Angola in Bicesse (Estoril, Portugal) in 1991, and as Minister for Foreign Affairs he launched the talks with the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, under the auspices of the Secretary General of the United Nations, that ultimately led to the independence of East Timor.

Under his leadership, the PSD won the general election in 2002 and he was appointed Prime Minister of Portugal in April of that year. He remained in office until July 2004 when he was nominated by the European Council and elected by the European Parliament to the post of President of the European Commission. In June 2009 the European Council unanimously nominated him for a second term as President of the European Commission, and he was re-elected by an absolute majority in the European Parliament in September 2009.

He is the recipient of numerous State Decorations, academic distinctions, and has been awarded more than 30 honorary degrees. In 2006, he was declared "European of the Year" by the newspaper European Voice and named “Global Leader for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum in 1993. He is an 'Honorary Citizen' of Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Athens, Nicosia, Valpaços, Lamego and Cantanhede.   

Barroso was born in Lisbon. After graduating in law from the University of Lisbon, he moved to Geneva where he completed a Diploma in European Studies at the European University Institute, University of Geneva, and a Master's degree in Political Science from the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Geneva, earning honours in both.

He embarked on an academic career, working successively as a teaching assistant at the Law Faculty of the University of Lisbon, in the Department of Political Science, University of Geneva, and as a visiting professor at the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.). In 1995, he became Head of the International Relations Department of Lusíada University, Lisbon. In 1979, he was one of the founders of AUROP, the Portuguese University Association for European Studies and he later became the first editor of the Revista de Ciência Política. He has also participated in several international missions including, among others, head of the IDEA delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996) and advisor to the United Nations in projects for Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2015, Barroso was appointed the Frederick H. Schultz Class of 1951 visiting professor of International Economic Policy and a policy fellow of the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD) at Princeton University. He currently serves as nonexecutive chairman of Goldman Sachs International.