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Barroso in the land of the rising sun

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Is the EU trying to interfere in Japan? Plus, European troops in Georgia - weekly news from Brussels

Japan has a new prime minister

Taro Aso has just taken up his new duties as prime minister, following a vote by the Japanese parliament on 24 September. The European commission didn’t hesitate to congratulate the new PM of Japan in an official communiqué, sent three days before the election.

While it is true that the former foreign affairs chief has been the frontrunner from the very start, certain things are not done. One of the four candidates who have entered the lists could have easily claimed this as interference on the part of the European Union. It was the French-Belgian daily Le Soir that had to warn Europe's chiefs of the error.

It is rare to see Barroso react so swiftly to current affairs

On 28 September, the spokesperson for the commission, Olivier Drewes, recognised that it was 'without doubt a technical error' which could 'pose a problem in terms of protocol'. The commission finally withdrew its communiqué on Sunday night, eight hours after publication, whilst also delivering its apologies. It is rare to see Barroso react so swiftly to current affairs …

Launching the EU mission in Georgia

On 1 October, the European Union sent an observation mission to Georgia. More than 300 observers, instead of the 200 originally planned, will be deployed in Georgia in order to make sure that the ceasefire is respected. The personnel charged with security and administration will be mostly French, Italian and Polish.

The personnel will be mostly French, Italian and Polish

The mission will then be engaged in the 'adjacent security zones' in the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, it is still not known if the mission will be authorised to penetrate the interior of the independantist provinces to verify the Russian retreat. This was one of the more vague points of agreement between French and Russian presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dimitri Medvedev.

Translated from Barroso au Pays du soleil levant