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13th Apr 2024

Juncker starts interviews for new EU commission

  • Juncker wants to finalise the commissioner names list by the end of the week (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Incoming EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has started meeting the nominees for his 28-strong college, but gender balance continues to be a problem.

Dutch foreign affairs minister Frans Timmermans and Slovene Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek were due to meet Juncker in Brussels on Tuesday (2 September) to present themselves and what portfolios they might be interested in.

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Belgium is the only country that has not yet decided on a nominee, with the political parties hesitating between foreign minister Didier Reynders or MEP Marianne Thyssen.

Juncker has promised better jobs to female commissioners, as "compensation" for being outnumbered by their male colleagues.

The female count is also important to secure the vote of the European Parliament, which has threatened to veto any team that has fewer than nine women.

So far only Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden have nominated women. But several other countries - Cyprus, Malta and Romania - have a woman as a plan B candidate.

As to the carve-out of portfolios, the economics post is seen as the top prize. Denmark's economy minister Margrethe Vestager is in the running against France's former finance minister Pierre Moscovici and Finland's ex-PM Jyrki Katainen.

External affairs-related posts also have several contenders. Bulgaria's humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, Dutch foreign minister Timmermans - both Russian-speakers - and two more foreign ministers from Hungary and Belgium are said to be in the running for such posts.

Timmermans is tipped to get a Vice-President post in the EU commission, with Dutch media floating trade as his preferred portfolio.

But Georgieva, who was also touted for the top foreign affairs job and is an internationally respected figure in the field of humanitarian aid, also has good chances of getting a plum job.

Juncker wants to meet all commissioner candidates this week. His finalised list of would-be commissioners must then be agreed by member states. Once this is done, he will announce what portfolio each one will have as well as how he intends to organise the next commission.

All commissioner candidates will then go through hearings in the European Parliament, before a final vote on the entire commission in October.

Commissioner candidates:

Austria - Johannes Hahn, regional policy commissioner

Belgium - Didier Reynders, foreign minister or Marianne Thyssen, MEP

Bulgaria - Kristalina Georgieva, humanitarian aid commissioner

Croatia - Neven Mimica, consumer affairs commissioner

Cyprus - Christos Stylianides, MEP or a woman

Czech Republic - Vera Jourova, regional development minister

Denmark - Margrethe Vestager, economy minister

Estonia - Andrus Ansip, former Prime Minister

Finland - Jyrki Katainen, former Prime Minister

France - Pierre Moscovici, former finance minister

Germany - Guenther Oettinger, energy commissioner

Greece - Dimitris Avramopoulos, defence minister

Hungary - Tibor Navracsics, foreign minister

Ireland - Phil Hogan, former environment minister

Italy - Federica Mogherini - High Representative for foreign and security policy

Latvia - Valdis Dombrovskis, former Prime Minister

Lithuania - Vytenis Andriukaitis, former health minister for health

Luxembourg - Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU commission

Malta - Karmenu Vella, tourism minister or a woman

Netherlands - Frans Timmermans, foreign minister

Poland - Elzbieta Bienkowska, minister for infrastructure and development

Portugal - Carlos Moedas, secretary of state dealing with troika

Romania - Dacian Ciolos, agriculture commissioner or Corina Cretu, MEP

Slovakia - Maros Sefocvic, inter-institutional and anti-fraud commissioner

Slovenia - Alenka Bratusek, Prime Minister

Spain - Miguel Arias Canete, former agriculture minister

Sweden - Cecilia Malmstroem, home affairs commissioner

UK - Lord Hill, former leader of the House of Lords

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