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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
MEPs confirm new Brussels chief
Jose Manuel Durao Barroso
Mr Durao Barroso says he wants more women commissioners
Former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso has been formally endorsed as the new president of the European Commission.

The European Parliament voted 413-251 for him to succeed Romano Prodi. He takes over on 1 November.

Mr Durao Barroso, supported by European Union governments, said he would aim to build bridges within the EU.

Before the vote he said he wanted to tackle poll apathy after a poor turnout at European Parliament elections.

MEPs were kept waiting for several minutes as Mr Durao Barroso failed to arrive in time for the result and newly-elected Parliament President Josep Borrell wondered aloud whether to make the announcement without him.

I will work with all of you. I will try to build bridges with all of you who didn't vote for me
Jose Manuel Durao Barroso
After a short wait, which was later attributed to a long walk between his office and the chamber, Mr Durao Barroso's appointment was confirmed with a majority of 413 out of 711 votes cast.

There were 251 votes against, 44 abstentions and three spoiled ballots.

He had firm support from the centre right groups and liberals, but was opposed by many members of the Socialist group as well as the Greens, the far left and the Euro-sceptics.

Mr Durao Barroso thanked members in three different European languages, starting with his own, declaring he was proud to be Portuguese.

"I know that most Portuguese people will be very proud today to have a Portuguese national as future president of the European Commission," he said.

He went on thank members in English, stressing that he was someone who could build bridges.

"Left and right are only one dimension of politics," he said. "I will work with all of you. I will try to build bridges with all of you who didn't vote for me."


He finished off in French, saying: "I hope that we - Commission and Parliament - will enjoy a relation of positive complicity."

In a press conference after the vote, he reiterated his wish to have more women in the European Commission - at least eight of the 24.

First senior government post aged just 29
Fluent in several languages
Lawyer by trade

He also said he wanted 24 "super-commissioners", not just one - in reference to French and German proposals for a super-commissioner with an economic portfolio.

The independence of his commission, he added, is crucial for its credibility.

The vote in Strasbourg took place during the first meeting of the European Parliament since the EU grew to 25 members on 1 May.

The new president will lead the European Commission through a critical period as the 10 new member states take time to settle in.

All member states also have to approve the new constitution, either through parliamentary votes or national referendums.

Mr Durao Barroso says one of his main tasks will be to fight against Euro-apathy, to try to persuade sceptical Europeans that the EU is a good thing.

The BBC's Chris Morris says he won a clear majority in the European Parliament, but his critics say he was trying too hard to please everyone. They will judge him on his results, he said.

The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby
"Mr Barroso has promised to reunite Europe"

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