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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 13:26 GMT
MEPs approve revamped Commission
Jose Manuel Barroso
Mr Barroso won the support of the three largest parliamentary groups
The European Parliament has approved a new team of EU commissioners put forward by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Mr Barroso had to withdraw his original line-up after MEPs objected to the views on women and homosexuality of Italian nominee Rocco Buttiglione.

The vote was passed by 449 votes to 149, with 82 abstentions.

The new team will now take office on Monday, three weeks after it was meant to have started work.

Bruising row

MEPs also approved a resolution seeking to increase their powers to oust any commissioner in whom they lose confidence.

REVISED COMMISSION TEAM
Out:
Rocco Buttiglione (Italy)
Ingrida Udre (Latvia)
In:
Franco Frattini (Italy)
Andris Piebalgs (Latvia)
Moved:
Laszlo Kovacs (Hungary) from Energy to Taxation

Mr Barroso opted to withdraw his entire team on 29 October rather than have it rejected by parliament, after a bruising row broke out over the choice of Mr Buttiglione as justice commissioner.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to replace Mr Buttiglione - who angered many MEPs by describing homosexuality as a "sin" - with outgoing Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

In other changes, Hungary's socialist nominee Laszlo Kovacs was reshuffled to the taxation and customs job and Latvia replaced its candidate.

However, Mr Barroso did not give in to MEPs' requests for him to replace the Dutch nominee for the post of competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes.

Stronger

The three largest groups in the EU assembly voted in favour of the reshuffled team, while the Greens, Communists and eurosceptics voted against.

We are able to say to the people of Europe that we have come out of this experience with strengthened institutions
Jose Manuel Barroso
Mr Barroso said he was "extremely happy" to have won the support of 66% of the MEPs who took part in the vote.

"We are able to say to the people of Europe that we have come out of this experience with strengthened institutions, in a better position to meet their expectations," he said.

"I look forward to deepening the commission's relationship with the Parliament," he added, saying that European democracy had become "more mature".

He said his priorities would be economic growth, lower unemployment, and consolidation of the "European model which reconciles reform and economic dynamism with solidarity and social cohesion".

Parliamentary powers

Mr Barroso was embarrassed when his initial attempt to avoid replacing Mr Buttiglione, despite his rejection by the parliament's Civil Liberties committee, fell through.

Correspondents say the European Parliament has been buoyed and strengthened by its success in forcing changes to the commission.

COMMISSION SALARIES
Normal Commissioner: 217,280 euros (152, 661 / $283,374)
Vice-President: 241,422 euros (169,622 / $314,859)
President: 266,530 euros (187,246 / $347,592)
Source: European Commission (Pre-tax figures, from Jan 2004)

However, the BBC's Chris Morris in Strasbourg says that in reality member governments of the EU are still the most important players in the Union's political system.

The parliament has the power to reject the entire commission but cannot vote against individual commissioners.

A non-binding resolution approved by the parliament on Thursday says the commission president should either sack a commissioner when MEPs have lost confidence in him or her, or should appear in parliament to explain why the commissioner is being kept on.

Mr Barroso said on Wednesday that this proposal was "perfectly acceptable", but he ruled out giving the parliament the right to force him to dismiss commissioners.

On Thursday he said he was ready to engage in discussions on the matter in a "constructive and positive spirit".

EU member states refused to give the parliament the right to sack commissioners during negotiations on the new EU constitution.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Both sides say they are now happy




SEE ALSO:
Q&A: EU Commission row
18 Nov 04 |  Europe
At-a-glance: EU commissioners
21 Oct 04 |  Europe
EU row candidate stands down
30 Oct 04 |  Europe


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