Print edition | Europe May 30th 2019

IT MAY NOT look impressive, but the Berlaymont building is the nearest thing the European Union has to a White House. Built on the site of a former convent on a hill above the centre of Brussels, the cross-shaped, 14-floor building houses the European Commission—the union’s executive, the guardian of its treaties and the sole institution that can initiate European legislation. Unlike the president of the European Council, the body comprising the 28 leaders of the EU member states, the commission president is more than a convener. His power (no woman has yet done the job) rests not in the fleeting politics of national capitals but in Brussels. It allows its bearer to

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