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Europe

Barroso Snubs German Call for EU Super-Commissioner

European Commission president-designate Jose Barroso rebuffed Wednesday German plans for an economic "super-commissioner" in the new EU executive he is expected to head.

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He wants all commissioners to have the same power

In a speech to the European Parliament, which is due to vote on his nomination on Thursday, Barroso underlined that the Commission must be strong and independent in its dealings with EU member states.

"I need your support. Europe needs a strong, credible and independent Commission," he told the Strasbourg assembly, meeting for the first time since the EU's expansion in May.

He listed his plans for the commission he hopes to take over in November -- after the executive's current head Romano Prodi stands down -- including the need for more women and total independence for its 25 members.

"But one thing must be clear: there will be no first and second class commissioners in the Commission (over which) I will preside," he said.

Günter Verheugen in Brüssel

Verheugen's probably not too happy about what Barroso had to say

This was widely seen as a reference to hopes by Germany, the EU's biggest economy and long one of its key heavyweights, of winning control of a new "super-commissioner" in charge of a broad economic and financial portfolio. German government officials had hoped that current EU Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen (photo) would take on the position.

The Brussels EU executive is seen by smaller EU states as a guarantor of defence against domination by the bigger EU countries, such as France and Germany.

But Paris and Berlin notably won their way last year in a battle with Brussels over their repeated flouting of budget rules underpinning Europe's single currency.

Barroso, who stood down as Portuguese prime minister when he was chosen last month as a compromise candidate by EU leaders, meanwhile called on countries to stump up the cash for the EU budget.

"The Union needs to match its political ambition with its financial resources. You cannot have more Europe for less money," he said. The EU is gearing up for tough negotiations on its long term budget. Prodi notably rejected calls for key contributor nations to freeze the money they put into the EU pot at 1 percent of GDP.

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