Thursday

21st Feb 2019

Focus

Commissioners return to uncertain future despite their EP election

  • Few of the commissioners elected MEPs are expected to take up their seats (Photo: European Parliament)

The EU commissioners that stood for election to the European Parliament returned to work after they were all elected on Sunday.

Economic affairs chief Olli Rehn, justice commissioner Viviane Reding, industry chief Antonio Tajani, administration commissioner Maros Sefcovic, EU budget chief Janusz Lewandowski, and consumer protection commissioner Neven Mimica were all standing for the EU assembly.

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Reding, Tajani and Lewandowski were elected on the tickets of centre-right parties in Luxembourg, Italy and Poland respectively. Meanwhile, Sefcovic and Mimica were elected in Slovakia and Croatia for parties affiliated to the Socialist and Democrat group, with Rehn topping the list of Finland's Centre party, part of the Liberal (ALDE) group.

Also elected, despite being the lowest ranked candidate on Guy Verhofstadt's Liberal party list in Flanders, was Belgian trade commissioner Karel de Gucht. De Gucht did not take leave from the Commission in order to campaign and immediately gave up the EP seat to Phillipe de Backer.

The remaining six returned to work at the EU executive on Monday (May 26) having taken leave for the last month of the EP election campaign.

Safely back in Brussels, the candidates only have a matter of weeks to decide their future. MEPs must take their seats when the Parliament convenes for its constitutive meetings in the first week of July in Strasbourg.

But few of the commissioners are expected to take up their EP seats.

Finnish economic affairs official Olli Rehn, who has been the commission's point-man throughout the eurozone crisis, is hoping for a commission top job.

Elsewhere, Sefcovic has already been confirmed as the Slovak government's commission candidate, while Mimica remains Croatia's commissioner-designate.

Meanwhile, Reding, who topped the Christian Democrat party list in Luxembourg, is backing the bid by her compatriot Jean-Claude Juncker, the EPP's Spitzenkandidat to secure the Commission presidency which would, in turn, preclude her from a fourth term in the EU executive.

Parliamentary hearings for commission candidates will be held in early September with the new EU executive expected to be confirmed by a parliament vote later that month.

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