Mandelson set to front Europe's WTO battle

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The Independent Online

Peter Mandelson yesterday landed the challenging role of EU trade commissioner, a heavyweight portfolio in which he will represent all 25 nations in regular World Trade Organisation talks.

His immediate challenge will be the Doha round of WTO talks, which stalled on the EU's stubbornness in reforming its Common Agricultural Policy, which developing countries say denies them fair access to European markets.

The job gives Mr Mandelson one of the main economic portfolios and should allow him to become one of the highest-profile commissioners on the world stage. Mr Mandelson, who had the perfect CV for the £143,000-a-year job, as a former trade and industry secretary, will be in charge of brokering a deal between the EU, America and other developed countries which will allow Third World countries to trade their goods more freely. He will also be in the forefront of the EU's"banana wars", in which Brussels is accused of unfairly supporting producers in the Caribbean.

Jo Leadbeater, the head of Oxfam's EU office, said: "Mr Mandelson will have the opportunity to help the EU deliver vital changes that could lift millions out of poverty."