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Didier Reynders

It's rare for politicians from Belgium, one of the smallest members of the European Union, to carry much weight in Europe's corridors of power. But Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders does. That's because he's not afraid to voice controversial views on the EU.

Reynders, 42, envisions a genuine European government. He wants the president of the European Commission to be directly elected rather than appointed by heads of government. And he thinks the EU should have some tax-raising powers.

A lawyer who has held top jobs in Belgian industry and politics, Reynders is president of the Euro 12--the regular gathering of EU finance ministers. He wants the Euro 12 empowered to coordinate policies of euro zone countries and act as a counterweight to the European Central Bank. That "will allow us to integrate the EU better," he says. Countries outside the zone--Britain, Sweden, and Denmark--oppose such a move. That won't stop the blunt Reynders from speaking out.

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