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Barroso Hands Out New EU Commission Posts

DW staff (tkw)August 12, 2004

European Commission president-elect Jose Manuel Durao Barroso announced his new line-up of 24 commissioners Thursday, giving big and small countries influential positions.

Barroso's commission will take office in NovemberImage: AP

As expected, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso gave meaty posts in the new European Commission to Germany, France and Britain. But he also handed some of the most influential jobs to some of the smallest countries.

The distribution of key EU executive body posts between major economic powers, small nations and the new EU member states will be seen as pro-reform bias and an attempt to speed up the pace of European economic growth.

"We must seek new high tech means to foster growth while maintaining our industrial base. Only by creating new jobs can we build on our successful European social model," Portugal's Barroso told the Associated Press.

Germany's Günter Verheugen, who has held the post of commissioner for enlargement for the past five years and oversaw the enlargement of the European Union to 25 countries on May 1, will take over the newly-created portfolio of enterprise and industry. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had been pushing for Verheugen to be given an important economic position.

"It is a strong and influential office and a success for the German EU commissioner," Verheugen commented. He said he had negotiated with Barroso directly for the post, not the German government. He stressed that "I am not Germany's representative. Europe has top priority. But what's good for Europe is also good for Germany."

Britain's Peter Mandelson, a close ally of Prime Minister Tony Blair, was named commissioner for trade and will speak for the EU at a critical juncture in the current round of liberalization talks at the World Trade Organization.

Peter Mandelson Porträtfoto
Peter Mandelson will be the new commissioner for tradeImage: dpa

In a statement, Mandelson said he was keen to take the new post both for "trade policy and the international dimension" of competition. "Europe will continue to benefit from globalization as long as trade and investment are further liberalized, and if Europe preserves its long-term competitiveness, its capacity for innovation and its social market economy," he said.

Surprise selection

Whilst France's Jacques Barrot was put in charge of transport, arguably the most powerful post of competition policy went to former Dutch Transport Minister Neelie Kroes. "She has extensive experience as a member of government, and she knows business well. She knows the private sector. I think it is good to have someone who really knows the private sector," Barroso said. Neelie spent ten years as president of one of Europe's top business schools, and serves on several corporate boards.

Joaquin Almunia of Spain, who is one of six members of the departing commission retained by Barroso, kept his job in charge of economic and monetary affairs. Rocco Buttiglione of Italy, a conservative former philosophy professor who follows the Vatican's line on abortion and artificial insemination, will be in charge of justice and home affairs.

Danuta Hübner, neue polnische EU Komissarin
Danuta Huebner will be in charge of regional policyImage: AP

Sweden's Margot Wallström, will be the senior of five vice presidents to Barroso and will act as his deputy in his absence. Wallström will also be in charge of institutional relations and communication strategy, giving her an influential role in liaising with EU member states and the European Parliament as well as being in charge of press relations.

Denmark's Mariann Fischer Boel takes over the agriculture department, which -- through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) -- oversees nearly half of the EU's entire annual budget. Poland, the largest of the new EU members, has been granted the regional policy portfolio, to be held by Danuta Huebner. Regional aid is second only to the CAP in EU spending.

Provided the new commission is endorsed by the European Parliament in October, it will take office on November 1. In the outgoing commission led by Romano Prodi, the five biggest member states had two commissioners each. But in Barroso's new team, each of the 25 countries has only one representative.

The new European Commission

President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso (Portugal)

Institutional relations and communication strategy:
Margot Wallström (Sweden)

Enterprise and industry:
Günter Verheugen (Germany)

Jacques Barrot (France)

Administrative affairs, audit and anti-fraud:
Siim Kallas (Estonia)

Justice, freedom and security:
Rocco Buttiglione (Italy)

Information society and media:
Viviane Reding (Luxembourg)

Stavros Dimas (Greece)

Economic and monetary affairs:

Joaquin Almunia (Spain)

Regional policy:
Danuta Huebner (Poland)

Fisheries and maritime policy:
Joe Borg (Malta)

Financial programming and budget:
Dalia Grybauskaite (Lithuania)

Science and research:

Janez Potocnik (Slovenia)

Education, training, culture and multi-linguism:

Jan Figel (Slovakia)

Health and consumer protection:

Markos Kyprianou (Cyprus)

Olli Rehn (Finland)

Development and humanitarian aid:

Louis Michel (Belgium)

Laszlo Kovacs (Hungary)

Neelie Kroes (Netherlands)

Agriculture and rural development:
Mariann Fischer Boel (Denmark)

External relations and European neighborhood policy:
Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Austria)

Internal market and services:

Charlie McCreevy (Ireland)

Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities:
Vladimir Spidla (Czech Republic)


Peter Mandelson (Britain)

Taxation and customs union:

Ingrida Udre (Latvia)