In the UK, the European Commissioner for Trade, Peter Mandelson, has left his post in Brussels after being invited by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to join the Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
London-born Mandelson had been at the head of a European Union team looking into the inequalities associated with the US ban on online gambling and had also initiated several investigations into the inequities of the UK system and any damage this has done to Europe-based companies.
Britain's Baroness Catherine Ashton, the Leader of the House of Lords, has been appointed as Mandelson’s successor and will assume her duties with immediate affect.
'I am delighted and very proud to have been asked to serve as Commissioner, to be a part of the European response to the global challenges we face,' said Ashton.
'I look forward to setting out my views to European Union member states and the European Parliament very soon.”
Although Mandelson’s term was due to end in December, the announcement came as a surprise to many and it is thought the 54-year-old will play a central strategic role for the ruling Labour Party in the run-up to the next general election. An often-controversial figure, Mandelson twice resigned from former Prime Minister Tony Blair's Cabinet, once over a loan from ministerial colleague Geoffrey Robinson and again over allegations of misconduct over a passport application for the Hinduja brothers. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing and numerous press reports allege that he spoke with Blair last week before deciding to accept Brown’s invitation.
'I helped create New Labour and I don't want to see it fail,” said Mandelson.
“The Party and the Government must renew themselves and I believe I can help with both.'