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Who are the new nominees for the European Commission?

Sabina Ciofu, Head of EU and Trade Policy, takes look at the new nominees for the European Commission.

The Italian 5Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party agreed last night to form a new government together under the same Prime-Minister, Giuseppe Conti. The agreement sends the far-right League and its controversial leader, Matteo Salvini, in opposition. Thus, Italy is the last EU Member State who still needs to nominate the country’s Commissioner for the next five years. In the running: former Prime-Ministers Paolo Gentiloni and Enrico Letta, former Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan and S&D MEP, Roberto Gualtieri. To be decided.

The other country that missed Ursula von der Leyen’s 26th of August nomination deadline was France. President Macron has now nominated Sylvie Goulard, a former liberal MEP and Commission official, French defense minister and currently government of the Banque de France. France – as well as half of the EU Member States – eyes an economic portfolio for its nominee.

Who are the other nominees?

Austria is going with Brussels veteran Johannes Hahn (EPP), the current EU enlargement chief. Belgium has nominated its foreign minister, Didier Reynders (Renew). Bulgaria sticks with Maryia Gabriel (EPP), who is the current digital commissioner. The newest Member State, Croatia, has nominated Dubravka Suica (EPP), a former mayor of Dubrovnik and current member of the European Parliament.

Cyprus has put forward the name of Stella Kyriakides (EPP), currently a lawmaker who also served as the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. The current EU Justice chief, Vera Jourova remains the Czech nomination. She’s potentially interested in moving on to the trade or internal market portfolios.

Margrethe Vestager (Renew) is Denmark’s nomination. Currently the bloc’s competition chief, she’s likely to see her responsibilities grow in the new term, to include other areas of policy too. Estonia sends Kadri Simson (Renew), who eyes energy, transport or internal market, given her background in these fields. Jutta Urpilainen (S&D), a former finance minister, is Finland’s nomination.

Greece nominated Juncker’s chief spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas (EPP), very experienced in the workings of the EU, having served in Brussels for almost three decades. Hungary’s nomination, Laszlo Trocsanyi (EPP – suspended), is likely to be controversial, given his background as former Justice minister and Viktor Orban’s slide on rule of law issues.

Ireland keeps Phil Hogan, the current Agriculture Commissioner. He’s reportedly interested in either sticking to the current portfolio or moving on to trade. Latvia also keeps its commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis (EPP), who is currently vice-president for the euro.

Lithuania nominated Virginijus Sinkevicius, the country’s 28-year-old economy minister. Luxembourg went with Nicolas Schmit, from the Social Democrats. Current MEP, Miriam Dalli, will be Malta’s commissioner, potentially eyeing an environment portfolio.

The Netherlands’ commissioner remains Frans Timmermans, who will keep a senior role, likely close to his current role as First Vice-President of the European Commission.

Poland eyes the agriculture file for its nominee, Janusz Wojciechoski (ECR) and Portugal has nominated former MEP Elisa Ferreia (S&D).

Romania has thrown two names in, both from the governing S&D party, Dan Nica and Rovana Plumb. Dan Nica is currently S&D Coordinator in the Industry Committee in the European Parliament and Rovana Plumb is also an MEP and former minister.

Slovakia sticks to Maros Sefcovic, currently vice-president overseeing the Energy Union. He may stick to the same portfolio. Slovenia nominated a career diplomat, Janez Lenarcic, the country’s ambassador to the EU.

Spain is likely to get the High Representative, according to the European Council deal. The nomination of Josep Borrell (S&D) is not free of controversy, given his previous diplomatic blunders and the Catalan issue. Finally, Sweden nominated Yiva Johansson (S&D), the current Swedish Employment Minister.

What next?

VDL is considering a revamping of the structure of the Commission, by giving greater power to the vice-presidents, likely to be Frans Timmermans and Margrethe Vestager. This arrangement will represent all three major political parties at the highest levels of EU decision-making, thus hopefully ensuring the safe passage of legislation through the European Parliament’s frail majority as well.

The nominations will now be followed by internal negotiations on allocations. An announcement of the portfolios is expected on September 15th, followed by the new Commissioners’ hearings in the European Parliament. We will be in Brussels at the end of September to follow the discussions in the relevant committees, which are likely to show the direction of EU policy making for the next five years.

 

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