Ursula von der Leyen revealed on Monday the list of nominees for the next Commission.
The European Commission’s president-elect has been working hard this summer to get the best candidates from member states for her team. She’ll be announcing their portfolios on Tuesday as well as how she intends to organise work in the next European Commission.
One of von der Leyen’s main requests was to get “gender parity”. She wanted to have at least 13 women (including herself), which means four more than the current Juncker Commission.
She asked all EU countries to send two names, one male and one female but only two countries followed her request: Romania and Portugal.
A few countries decided to nominate one woman and some of them are old faces from the Juncker team who will serve a second mandate.
Who’s in the list?
In total, three women and five men from the current Commission will work with von der Leyen including Dutchman Frans Timmermans and Dane Margrethe Vestager.
The other returning members are Valdis Dombrovskis, Mariya Gabriel, Johannes Hahn, Phil Hogan, Vera Jourova, and Maros Sefkovic.
CEPS think tank director Daniel Gros said they should not be seen as a threat to her leadership.
“It is always good to have some people that have been there before and eight is not even one-third of the total, so that should not be a problem. Moreover, these eight have been rather passive in the previous commission, and therefore I do not think that they will dominate the new one”.
However, there will also be new faces in the Commission such as Spain’s minister for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, who’s been nominated to be the next EU high representative overseeing foreign affairs and security policy.
Other new faces include Helena Dalli, Malta’s minister for European affairs and equality. Her role in the new Commission is unclear at the moment, Italy’s former prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, France’s former MEP Sylvie Goulard are also in the list.
The President-elect will have a tough job assigning portfolios, especially the important ones like agriculture, digital, economic and financial Affairs, trade, regional development — that have a big political and financial impact.
But the final decision will depend on how the commissioners will perform during the hearings at the European Parliament, taking place in the second half of September.
One piece of advice is that von der Leyen changes management style from the Juncker era.
“The Juncker commission was totally centralised, the individual commissioners did not really count for anything, but that led also much to an organisation that was very much top-down and it lost some of its internal vitality. Von der Leyen could change that; she could say ‘I will allow more discussion in the Commission; I will leave more room for individual commissioners to have their own initiatives’,” Gros said.
Other important portfolios such as migration and climate change could prove controversial since they lead to big policy rifts among EU countries.
What happens next?
After the first hearings mid-September, Ursula von der Leyen will have about one month to present the final list of names to the European Parliament.
The new Commission is due to take office on November 1 but all commissioners have to be confirmed by the European Parliament first.