INTERNATIONAL

New E.U. chief sets priorities

Brussels: Jose Manuel Barroso (48), the former Prime Minister of Portugal, has been elected President of the European Commission by the European Union parliamentarians despite strong Left opposition. Mr. Barroso was elected with the backing of the Centre-Right Conservatives, the Liberals and some Socialists. Mr. Barroso will take over the post in November after the retirement of Romano Prodi, the current President. Mr. Prodi, the former Italian Prime Minister will leave Brussels in November, to re-enter Italian politics and could challenge Sylvio Berlusconi's premiership in the 2006 elections. Mr. Barroso's appointment has aroused wide expectations and he has promised to fulfill the quest for a healthier economic growth than the current level of less than 1 per cent. He is also expected to deal with the high rate of unemployment. Mr. Barroso said he would be "strong and independent" and has announced plans for tight economic, political and fiscal policies. In his first major policy statement, Mr. Barroso said he rejected Germany's proposal for appointment of a "super Commissioner (minister)" to oversee the progress of the proposed economic reforms to boost economic growth in Europe.

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