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European Parliament approves Barroso's commission team

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-09

The European Parliament on Tuesday voted to approve the new 26-member team proposed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso as the EU executive readies to take office nearly four months behind schedule.


REUTERS - The European Parliament overwhelmingly approved the lineup of the next European Commission on Tuesday, clearing the way for the EU executive to take office nearly four months behind schedule.
Legislators voted 488 to 237 in favour of the 26-person team put forward by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, a move that was widely expected after Barroso replaced one of his original nominees last month following assembly opposition.
Seventy-two lawmakers abstained.
The Commission, responsible for proposing and enforcing laws across the 27 member states of the European Union, formally begins its five-year mandate at midnight on Tuesday, a spokesman said.
Ahead of the vote, Barroso urged the 736-member assembly to back his Commission choices and laid out some of his aims.
"The broad priorities are clear: making a successful exit from the crisis; leading on climate action and energy efficiency; boosting new sources of growth and social cohesion to renew our social market economy," he said.
The Commission has far-reaching power to initiate legislation and to provide oversight of existing laws on issues ranging from mergers and acquisitions to trade, financial market regulation, economic and monetary affairs and the environment.
It consists of one commissioner from each EU member state, each of whom holds a portfolio and is expected to act in the interests of the EU and its 500 million citizens, without following any national agenda.
The Commission was scheduled to take office in November but approval was held up by delays in signing the EU's Lisbon reform treaty, by disputes over who would fill two top-level EU jobs and by parliament's opposition to Bulgaria's original candidate.
The new Commission will be the second headed by Barroso, who received backing from EU leaders for another term last June and won support from the parliament for the job on Sept. 16.
Barroso has made Europe's economic recovery -- under the banner of a 10-year jobs and growth programme called the 2020 strategy -- the broad focus of the next Commission's work, but individual commissioners will have busy personal portfolios.
Top portfolios
Three of the most high-profile will be the internal market job to be handled by France's Michel Barnier, the monetary affairs portfolio to be taken by Finland's Olli Rehn and the competition brief under Spain's Joaquin Almunia.
Barnier has said he plans to tighten regulations in the wake of the economic and financial crisis, a move that has raised concerns in London, Europe's leading financial centre, where banks and financial firms fear excessive restrictions could inhibit their operations and drive participants abroad.
Rehn will be at the forefront of the battle to prevent a full-blown crisis in Greece, where a soaring budget deficit and mounting debt pile have led to speculation in financial markets that the government could default on payments, a move that would have profound repercussions for the euro single currency.
EU heads of state and government will meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss economic issues. Greece is not formally on the agenda but is expected to be discussed intensively on the sidelines, with pressure building for states such as France and Germany to draw up a contingency plan for a Greek bailout.
Almunia, the outgoing economic and monetary affairs chief, will be in charge of monitoring mergers and acquisitions and any anti-competitive or cartel-like behaviour in the EU or affecting the EU and its citizens.
The portfolio allowed the outgoing commissioner, Neelie Kroes, to act as a powerful watchdog of corporate behaviour, including issuing more than $1 billion of fines to companies such as Microsoft and Intel.


Date created : 2010-02-09