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European Parliament Approves New Executive Commission

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (right) gives a speech as he is surrounded by the newly elected team of EU commissioners at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg.
The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to approve the next European Commission.

The move, which was widely expected, paves the way for the EU executive to take office nearly four months later than originally planned.

Members voted 488 to 137 in favor of the 26-person team put forward by commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Approval had been held up on several fronts. The EU's Lisbon reform treaty didn't come into force until December because of delays in its ratification in several member countries.

There were disputes over who would fill the two top jobs created by the treaty -- that of a full-time president and an EU foreign-policy chief.

And there was also opposition from some lawmakers over the suitability of one of Barroso's original nominees -- Bulgarian Rumyana Jeleva, who was later forced to step down.

After today's vote, Barroso said his team was now ready to go to work.

"We are proud and humbled by the vote," he said. "We see there is strong support across the political spectrum. It is an important moment for Europe, a real mandate for boldness."

Clouds On The Horizon

Among the notable portfolios -- Michel Barnier of France becomes commissioner for the internal market and services; Olli Rehn of Finland gets monetary affairs; and Joaquin Almunia moves to competition.

Barroso, already approved as president, has begun his second term at the commission helm.

"We are proud and confident to work with our full determination for the good of democracy in Europe, a Europe that is in fact a beacon of freedom in the world," Barroso said.

The new team takes office at a time of unease over the financial troubles of some of the EU members that use the single currency, the euro.

Greece's fiscal problems and growing worries over Portugal and Spain have shaken financial markets' faith in the euro.

The issue is likely to figure prominently when the EU holds a summit later this week. Barroso said he would discuss the economic situation then with European Central Bank chief, Jean-Claude Trichet.

compiled from agency reports