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EU parliament approved new commission

The European Parliament has approved the incoming European Commission. The team, headed by former prime minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker, is expected to take office on November 1, reports

Juncker’s team of 27 commissioners was endorsed with 423 votes at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, with 209 MEPs voting against, and 67 abstaining.

Juncker replaces outgoing commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and is due to begin his term at the beginning of November.

The commission, which includes one member from each of the 28 EU member states, is Brussels’ most powerful institution, known in EU parlance simply as “the executive.” It will draft EU policy and oversee national budgets for the next five years in a bloc with roughly 507 million inhabitants.

“In the coming weeks and months, the commission must play a key role to confront the challenges we face,” said Benedetto Della Vedova, a junior minister at the Italian Foreign Ministry. Italy will hold the bloc’s presidency, which rotates every six months, until the end of the year.

During his keynote address to parliament ahead of the vote, Juncker told lawmakers the EU had to show Europeans it was working in their interests to tackle key problems such as Europe’s struggling economy and high unemployment rate.

“Let’s get Europe moving again,” he said. “Citizens are losing faith.”

Juncker also acknowledged the anti-EU backlash during the EU Parliament elections in May, admitting bloc needed to work hard to win the public’s trust.

“Extremists on the left and right are nipping at our heels. Our competitors are taking liberties. It is time we breathed a new lease of life into the European project,” he said, adding that economic improvement was vital to getting EU citizens onboard.