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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 November, 2004, 19:05 GMT
Latvia names new EU commissioner
Ingrida Udre
Udre failed to convince MEPs to back her candidacy
Latvia has selected a former government minister, Andris Piebalgs, to be the country's new European Commissioner.

He was chosen after a request from incoming EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for Latvia to replace its original nominee, Ingrida Udre.

She was to have become taxation commissioner, but failed to convince the European parliament to back her.

Mr Barroso had to withdraw his entire list of commissioners after a row over Italy's Rocco Buttiglione.

MEPs had threatened to veto the proposed commission if Mr Buttiglione stayed because of his controversial views on gays and women.

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A former finance minister, Mr Piebalgs is a veteran diplomat with EU experience and has worked in Brussels as number two to Latvia's first commissioner, Sandra Kalniete.

He has hinted he may be interested in the energy post, Reuters news agency reports.

"It's a very good portfolio. It's a great job with a lot of responsibility, securing energy supplies in Europe," he told the agency.

Irregularities

Mr Barroso is said to have accepted Mr Piebalgs' candidacy, Latvian Prime Minister Indulis Emsis is reported as saying by AFP news agency.

It is not clear whether Mr Barroso has asked the Dutch and Hungarians to come up with new nominees for commissioners.

Their respective candidates had also come in for criticism from MEPs.

Ms Udre - a former Latvian parliamentary speaker and Eurosceptic Green - had not provided enough clarification about past allegations of financial irregularities, MEPs said during her nomination hearing last month.

The EU parliament can only approve nominations for the 25-seat executive Commission as a whole.




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See Rocco Buttiglione announce his withdrawal




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