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EU Commission: Who's who?

The 26 nominees to the new European Commission were confirmed by the European Parliament in a vote on 9 February.

The specialist parliamentary committees which vet the candidates had earlier approved all of them.

The last to win approval - on 3 February - was the new Bulgarian nominee, Kristalina Georgieva. She replaced Rumiana Jeleva, who failed to convince MEPs that she was suitable to be humanitarian aid commissioner.

Like the last Commission, this one is headed by veteran Portuguese conservative politician Jose Manuel Barroso. His appointment was confirmed by EU leaders in late 2009.

Commissioners serve a five-year term and are responsible for drafting EU legislation and ensuring compliance with it. So who are the main players in the new 27-member team?

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO (Portugal) - President

Jose Manuel Barroso (AFP pic)

Mr Barroso, 53, was reappointed for a new five-year term with unanimous support from EU governments and a sound majority in the European Parliament.

He calls himself a "centrist reformer", not a "liberal". Overseeing the EU's eastward enlargement has been one of his biggest challenges, along with the fall-out from the global financial crisis.

In his youth he was a left-wing activist but later embraced the free market and served as Portugal's prime minister in 2002-2004.

CATHERINE ASHTON (UK) - High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Commission vice-president

Catherine Ashton (AP pic)

EU leaders surprised many observers when they appointed Baroness Ashton, 53, to be the EU's first "foreign minister" in November 2009. Before that she had served just one year as trade commissioner and had not held a top foreign ministry job.

But Baroness Ashton has a reputation as a consensus-builder, and shepherded the Lisbon Treaty through the UK's unelected House of Lords - a harder job than in many other European assemblies.

She has shrugged off UK Conservatives' criticism over her involvement in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1980s.

MICHEL BARNIER (France) - Internal market

Michel Barnier (AFP pic)

Mr Barnier, 59, is seen as a controversial choice because of UK fears that Brussels regulations might make the City of London less attractive as a financial centre.

He is an ally of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who did not disguise his joy at France securing the influential post. Mr Sarkozy has pressed the EU to tighten regulation of financial services, blaming private equity and hedge funds for the banking crisis.

Mr Barnier was formerly France's foreign minister and agriculture minister, and was EU commissioner for regional policy in 1999-2004.

JOAQUIN ALMUNIA (Spain) - Competition

Joaquin Almunia (AFP pic)

Mr Almunia, 61, is now in charge of anti-trust and anti-cartel issues, with the power to impose multi-million-euro fines, such as those slapped on Intel and Microsoft in recent years.

A socialist, his last job was running the EU's economic and monetary affairs.

Before moving to Brussels he served as Spanish minister for public administration and employment.

OLLI REHN (Finland) - Economic and Monetary Affairs

Olli Rehn (AFP pic)

Mr Rehn, 47, was in charge of EU enlargement in the outgoing Commission. That included the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007. Now his job is to ensure that EU nations rein in spending and deal with big debts.

The eurozone bail-out for debt-laden Greece has thrust him into the spotlight.

He has served previously in both the European Parliament and Finnish parliament.

A specialist in political economy, he is known to be a lover of rock, jazz and football.

KAREL DE GUCHT (Belgium) - Trade

Karel De Gucht (AFP pic)

Mr De Gucht, 55, is a liberal who in 2008-2009 served as Belgian deputy prime minister, then EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid.

A professor of European law, he is now steering EU trade talks with major world powers that can result in deals worth billions of euros. The Doha round of global trade talks is high on his agenda.

He is embroiled in a row with the Democratic Republic of Congo, after having criticised the way EU aid money is spent there. Belgium was formerly the colonial ruler of Congo.

GUENTHER OETTINGER (Germany) - Energy

Guenther Oettinger (Getty Images pic)

Mr Oettinger, 56, has been prime minister of Baden-Wuerttemberg since 2005, so he is new to Brussels politics. The region is one of Germany's economic powerhouses.

He is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). His speciality is tax law.

DACIAN CIOLOS (Romania) - Agriculture

Dacian Ciolos (AFP pic)

Mr Ciolos, 40, served as Romanian agriculture minister in 2007-2009 and his professional career has been devoted to agriculture.

Farming and rural development gets more funding than anything else in the EU budget, and reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be an important part of the commissioner's job.

The other commissioners:

Environment - Janez Potocnik (Slovenia)

Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion - Laszlo Andor (Hungary)

Budget - Janusz Lewandowski (Poland)

Enlargement - Stefan Fuele (Czech Republic)

Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship - Viviane Reding (Luxembourg)

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries - Maria Damanaki (Greece)

Regional Policy - Johannes Hahn (Austria)

Climate Action - Connie Hedegaard (Denmark)

Research and Innovation - Maire Geoghegan-Quinn (Republic of Ireland)

Transport - Siim Kallas (Estonia)

Health and Consumer Policy - John Dalli (Malta)

International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response - Kristalina Georgieva (Bulgaria)

Digital Agenda - Neelie Kroes (the Netherlands)

Development - Andris Piebalgs (Latvia)

Home Affairs - Cecilia Malmstroem (Sweden)

Industry and Entrepreneurship - Antonio Tajani (Italy)

Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud - Algirdas Semeta (Lithuania)

Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration - Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia)

Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth - Androulla Vassiliou (Cyprus)



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