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Page last updated at 11:20 GMT, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 12:20 UK

EU head Barroso seeks second term

Jose Manuel Barroso (9 June 2009)
Jose Manuel Barroso said he was honoured to be asked to stand again

Jose Manuel Barroso has declared his candidacy for a second five-year term as the European Commission's president.

Mr Barroso was formally asked to stand again by Czech PM Jan Fischer during talks in Brussels following the results of the European Parliament elections.

Correspondents say his position has been strengthened by the strong showing of centre-right parties which back him.

The former Portuguese prime minister has led the European Commission, the EU's executive body, since 2004.

The leaders of all 27 member states and a majority of the European Parliament must agree on the choice of a new commission president.

Some countries hope to achieve this before a summit in Brussels next week, but Mr Barroso's current term does not end until October.

'Strong commission'

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Mr Barroso said he was honoured to have been asked to declare his candidacy by Mr Fischer. The Czech Republic currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, which represents member states.

This acceptance pre-supposes that the European Council and European Parliament embrace the ambitious programme that I will propose for Europe
Jose Manuel Barroso
European Commission President

"I have agreed to this request," he said.

Mr Barroso, 53, said he had long hoped for a second term, but warned he would only accept the job if everyone endorsed his vision for the continent.

"This acceptance pre-supposes that the European Council and European Parliament embrace the ambitious programme that I will propose for Europe for the next five years," he said.

"I believe that in time of crisis, we need a strong commission and a strong European Union," he added. "We need ambition and European commitment."

Mr Barroso said he would be looking for endorsement of the commission's proposals for regulation of the financial industry, dealing with unemployment and fighting climate change.

He also wants new guarantees to reassure Irish voters about the Lisbon Treaty approved ahead of a second referendum in October.

Mr Fischer said he would discuss Mr Barroso's candidacy with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at talks in Berlin later on Tuesday, before speaking with other EU leaders either in person or by telephone.

'No credible alternative'

The BBC's Dominic Hughes in Brussels says that with the results of last week's elections confirming the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) will remain the biggest bloc in the new parliament, the road seems clear for Mr Barroso to secure a second term.

EU Green leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit (7 June 2009)
Fringe parties, such as the Greens, made gains in the European elections

He has already won the backing of a number of leaders from member states, including centre-left heads of government in the UK, Spain and Portugal.

But some Green MEPs, as well as those from the left, have been highly critical.

They want to see more social welfare measures, and accuse Mr Barroso of a lack of ambition. They also do not like Mr Barroso's emphasis on a business-friendly, free-market orientated European Commission.

But, our correspondent says, no credible alternative candidate to replace him at the top of the EU's executive arm has emerged - and Mr Barroso now seems almost certain to win the necessary support.

In last week's elections, centre-right parties did well in France, Germany, Italy and Poland, where they are in government, but also in the UK, Spain and Portugal, where they are in opposition.

Far-right and nationalist parties also won seats, among them the British National Party, which won two seats - its first ever in a nationwide election. But the parties failed to achieve the surge in support that some observers had forecast.

Greens also made gains - the Green-European Freedom Alliance bloc has so far taken 52 seats, compared with 43 in the last assembly.

However, turnout figures plunged to 43% - the lowest since direct elections to the parliament began 30 years ago.

Mr Barroso told reporters on Tuesday that European voters had "sent a clear message to their leaders and they are being heard".



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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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