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from Global News Journal:

EU gets new Commission, but little to cheer yet

There was more a sense of relief than joy when the European Union finally got its new executive on Tuesday. These are difficult times for the EU and there is little to celebrate.

The new European Commission is taking office in a tough economic climate, with the 16-country euro zone facing its hardest test since the single currency came into being 11 years ago.

The EU's image has taken a battering in the past few months, first as the 27-country bloc struggled to secure the approval of the Czech Republic to complete ratification of the Lisbon treaty, a charter intended to reform its institutions and make decision-making easier, and then after it chose two low-key leaders as its first full-time president and foreign policy chief.

U.S. President Barack Obama caused EU leaders further embarrassment by deciding not to attend an EU-US summit in Madrid in May, and the EU failed to force through its more radical ideas at the Copenhagen climate talks in December. An additional problem is media criticism of foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has been under fire over the EU's perceived slow response to the Haiti earthquake.

from Global News Journal:

Does Washington care about the EU?

Try as it might, the European Union's efforts to act like a bigger player in world affairs keep running into obstacles.

The latest setback is a report that President Barack Obama won't be able to make it to the annual EU-U.S. summit this year, pencilled in for Madrid in May. A hectic domestic agenda and the fact the U.S. president made 10 foreign trips last year -- more than any other president in his first year in office -- means staying at home is the priority and the Europe Union will have to wait.

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