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French Minister Appointed EU Internal Market Commissioner

1st December 2009 8:20 am GMT

The European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso, has announced that former French agriculture minister Michel Barnier is to take over as the EU's new Internal Market and Services Commissioner, replacing Charlie McCreevy who has been in the role since 2004.

McCreevy, a supporter of gambling law harmonisation within the EU, was criticised during his tenure by the gambling industry for failing to follow through on infringement procedures against member states with restrictive gaming legislations.

With Friday's appointment of Barnier to the role, concerns have been raised within the industry about the direction which the gambling debate will take in the new European Commission. And with Mr. Barnier's mandate including oversight of Europe's beleaguered financial sector, the issue of gambling is expected to be pushed even further down the Internal Market Commissionaire's agenda.

The financial services sector has also voiced concerns over the appointment of Barnier, who is seen to support France's stance on tougher regulation of the industry.

Mr. Barnier's appointment remains subject to the approval of the European Parliament on January 26th, following a hearing before a Parliamentary committee in the week of January 11th.

In his letters to each Commissioner setting out their new responsibilities, President Barroso underlined the essential role of the Commission as the motor for the EU's efforts to address tomorrow's challenges, as well as the new opportunities provided by the Lisbon Treaty.

He repeated his commitment to a smart regulation agenda, respecting subsidiarity and proportionality, focused on clear added value at EU level; paying particular attention to sound financial management; and full respect for the Code of Conduct of the Members of the European Commission.

He has also stressed the need for a successful partnership with the Member States and the other institutions, in particular with the European Parliament.

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