The Canadian who riled Jose Manuel Barroso

Jose Manuel Barroso speaks at a press conference in Los Cabos, Mexico 18 June 2012
Jose Manuel Barroso isn't known for his outbursts, but something at the G20 meeting provoked him

President Obama has said that he tries to "prod" Europe, rather than "scold" its leaders.

Nevertheless, you might think that the President of the European Commission's uncharacteristically caustic outburst was aimed in the White House direction.

I watched with huge interest as Jose Manuel Barroso laid into the North Americans who lectured him on democracy and economics. Mr Barroso declared the crisis began here, not in the Eurozone.

As the BBC's Europe editor, I interviewed him many times, and I am afraid never managed to get quite such a pithy sound bite, let alone provoke him to quiver with anger.

So who did?

It wasn't Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, who had some advice for the Europeans but points out her country is not in North America.

It's likely the commission president's wrath was raised not by the leader of North America's most powerful country, but its biggest.

It was the Sun Media group's David Akin who asked the question that provoked the outburst. Mr Akin thinks it was in reaction to advice Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had offered.

"The problems of the Eurozone remain very significant," Mr Harper said. "What European countries need to do, and what we will be looking to see, are clear commitments that they are prepared to take all of the actions, all of the necessary actions that are within their capacity to deal with these problems."

Fairly mild stuff when he is being asked to stump out Canadian dollars to help out the eurozone.

The Canadian media, a phlegmatic lot on the whole, seems to be taking a certain nationalistic pride in the fact it was probably their man who made the commission president crack.

Maybe the US president may think twice before he does any more prodding. But given the scornful reaction to Mr Barroso's words, maybe he won't.

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