start of the new Commission has been postponed by a month to 1 December. This
was decided by the European Parliament in Week 42. The first step is to propose
alternative candidates for the internal market, transport, and neighbourhood and
will also be up to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron to decide when the new
Commission can start its work. He blames the President-designate for the defeat
of his candidate, Sylvie Goulard. This has been called a ‘political game’,
because von der Leyen had been given all relevant personal information. The
54-year-old political scientist was nominated as Commissioner for the Internal
Payback for Macron?
parliamentary committees rejected Goulard on 10 October by 82 votes to 29. The
French candidate provided more than enough of a target. However, her rejection
was probably not just the result of a second job where she was earning a
dubious income. Many suspect there were political motives behind her rejection
and that it was a reaction to Macron’s rejection of the Spitzenkandidat principle.
comes at a bad time for von der Leyen. She had expressly supported Goulard’s
application, with full knowledge of her pending criminal proceedings in France.
There are now three vacancies in the new Commission. Hungary and Romania also
had to withdraw at the request of the Legal Affairs Committee.
Time heals all wounds
are alternatives for Hungary and Romania. The shaky nomination of Janusz
Wojciechowski (Poland) for the agriculture portfolio will be clarified and
sooner or later France will also propose a suitable alternative. Other than
this, the structure of the new Commission is clear.
Juncker Commission was leaner
Ursula von der Leyen
will preside with eight vice-presidents, three of whom will have executive
functions. Margrethe Vestager’s appointment as Executive Vice-President for
digital Europe will be viewed as a concession to the liberals, who have become
much stronger after the European elections. A further 18 commissioners are
distributed across the individual ministries. In comparison, the Juncker
Commission took office with just one First Vice-President, the High
Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and three other vice-presidents,
and was more streamlined.
Tougher job for the Commission
The new Commission will
not find it easier to do its job, especially as the importance of the
individual portfolios is to be boosted. In addition, a number of topics are
spread across various areas, with some surprising results. For example,
Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President-designate and Commissioner for Democracy and
Demography, is expected to present a Green Paper on ageing. The Green Paper
will also address the question of whether social security systems are equipped
to cope with an ageing society.
In general, health and
social issues are addressed in many different areas. This made it necessary for
both the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) and the Committee on
the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) to each be invited to six
hearings with the proposed candidates. In the new Commission, it will probably
be necessary to discuss responsibilities.