The shape of the von der Leyen Commission was announced today with a number of changes to the leaked version at the weekend.

Please click on the candidates below for their respective bios

The highlights include:

  • The goal of gender balance was more or less achieved with 14 men and 13 women (compared to the 19/9 split in the Juncker Commission). MEPs are pleased!
  • Geographical balance, notably missing from the share-out of top jobs, was recognised with 4 of the 8 vice-presidencies going to central and eastern Europe. The choice of the Czech Jourova to deal with values and transparency will also have gone down well following the souring of relations on rule of law.
  • Timmermans will lead work on the flagship European Green Deal – overseeing Commissioners for agriculture, health, transport, energy, cohesion and reforms and environment and oceans
  • Vestager retains Competition (not going to the French as leaked) and leads the work on making Europe fit for the digital age.
  • Dombrovskis comes in as the 3rd Executive VP on the Economy and Financial Services, ensuring the EPP have a senior VP alongside S&D and RE. He will also be expected to keep an eye on the Italian Gentilioni in charge of the Economy (and hence Italy’s compliance with EU budget rules) and their relationship will be one to follow. The EPP are already making unhappy noises.
  • The 3 executive VPs will play a dual role, coordinating a headline ambition as well as directly managing a policy area ie Timmermans will have direct control of DG CLIMA which Sefcovic never had.
  • The other 5 VPs are Borrell (foreign), Jourova (values & transparency), Schinas(protecting European way of life), Sefcovic (inter-institutional relations & foresight) and Suica (democracy & demographics). The titles reflect a move away from mirroring DG names, focusing on tasks rather than hierarchies, but has already raised concerns ie migration policy described as “protecting European way of life” has not gone down well.
  • Other notable innovations include Environment & Oceans going to the 28 year-old Green from Lithuania; Energy going to the Estonian Kadri Simson; Transport to Romania and Internal market, defence, DSM and industrial policy all going to France’s Sylvie Goulard. As expected, Trade (plus Brexit negotiations) goes to Hogan, Agriculture to Poland and Research to Gabriel from Bulgaria (even though the word research is dropped from her title).
  • Each Commissioner received a  mission letters setting out their key areas of work
  • New working methods set out including Commissioner groups chaired by the relevant Executive VP; Sec Gen to chair Interservice groups. The most vocal opposition is to the proposed “one in, one out” policy of scrapping a regulation for every new one. The Greens have already dubbed this “better regulation on steroids” and fear it will weaken environmental protection.
  • Some changes have been made to which DGs will support each Commissioner (ie two units on pharma and medical devices move from DG GROW to DG SANTE.
  • On Brexit, Mrs von der Leyen said the UK would have to nominate a Commissioner and be assigned a portfolio if there was an extension. She may also try and persuade Barnier to stay on in the event of an extension.

Timetable for Parliamentary hearings:

  • 16 September: committees submit 5 specific questions for their Commissioner plus 2 common questions for all Commissioners
  • 30 September – 8 October: public hearings in the competent committees, allowing time before the 21-24 October plenary for any follow-up questionnaires, 2nd hearings or new nominations in the event of a committee rejecting a candidate. Candidates need the support of coordinators representing two-thirds of committee membership or risk more written questions or a 2nd hearing.
  • 23 October: The EP is due to vote by a majority of votes cast and by roll call the whole Commission, which would then take up office on 1 November.
  • The candidates seen most at risk are the Hungarian Trocsanyi (EPP) who as Justice Minister is considered too closely linked to the judicial reforms that soured relations with Brussels and for the Socialists, Rovana Plumb (RO) who is under investigation in the Belina case. The Polish candidate (ECR) is also under investigation from OLAF but hopes his time as an MEP will win him friends.