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Tall agenda for Barroso II - 15/02/2010

Group photo of new commission © EU

When president Barroso's first team took office, the economy was doing well and unemployment was declining. Five years on and following the biggest recession in decades, a whole new set of challenges awaits the 2010-14 European commission.

Outlining his priorities in last autumn, the president said his first order of business would be driving economic recovery and getting millions of people who lost their jobs during the slump back to work. He also pledged to continue his push for financial reforms to avert another crisis.

As for long-term goals, the EU's 10-year plan for growth - the Lisbon strategy - expires this year, and work is under way on its successor. The president has already published a working paper setting out the objectives before the formal proposal is presented in March.

Last week, Mr Barroso gave EU leaders a preview of the plan - known as "Europe 2020." The strategy revolves around promoting low-carbon industries, investing in research and development, unleashing a digital economy and modernising education and training.

It will seek to strengthen the common market and bring national budget deficits back under control, the president said, urging more coordination of economy policy. Twenty countries are now exceeding the EU's 3% cap on budget shortfalls.

The new EU executive is the first to serve under the Lisbon treaty, designed to streamline EU decision-making and enhance the bloc's profile in international affairs. As the guardian of EU treaties, the new commission must make sure the reform charter is implemented - a tough task as the changes touch on nearly every EU institution.

That includes the commission. The new line-up features a high representative of foreign affairs, a position created by the treaty. Catherine Ashton holds the post, doubling as commission vice-president.

Global warming, a major issue during the president's first term, remains a top priority, as indicated by the creation of the new climate action portfolio. The EU is pressing for a resumption of international talks to finish up where the Copenhagen climate conference left off.

Climate action is not the only new post. For the first time there are portfolios wholly dedicated to home affairs and to humanitarian aid. Several other posts have been reconfigured.

The Barroso II team holds its first meeting this week. The new line-up comprises 27 commissioners, one from each EU country. Fourteen, including the president, served in the previous executive. Their term lasts five years.

EU 2020 - strategy for sustainable growth

Policy guidelines for the new Commission

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