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Michel bags coveted Commission role

Published on 12/08/2004

12 August 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgium’s former foreign minister Louis Michel has headed off competition from Austria to bag the place on the Commission he wanted, it was reported on Thursday.

Portuguese José Manuel Barroso, who becomes EU Commission President on 1 November, had said he would announce the line-up of his team the week of 23 August.

He arrived in Brussels at the start of this week to hold consultations on the distribution of the 24 portfolios.

But on Thursday morning, he called a surprise press conference for that afternoon to announce his choice of commissioners. And several hours before the conference, the Belgian press were already carrying the news that Michel, a French-speaking Liberal, had beaten Austria’s Benita Ferrero-Waldner to the post of European Commissioner for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO).

The press generally thought Barroso had favoured the Belgian to Ferrero-Waldner – who had also expressed interest in the job – because of his extensive knowledge of Africa.

A suggestion that Barroso divide up the ECHO commissioner role into two portfolios was also ruled out.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news