21st Oct 2016

Four EU commissioners give up posts, become MEPs

  • EU parliament in Brussels: the post-election reshuffle is well under way (Photo:

Four out of the seven commissioners who were elected to the European Parliament quit their jobs on Tuesday (1 July) in order to become MEPs.

Luxembourg's Viviane Reding, until now commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, took up her MEP seat, along with economics commissioner Olli Rehn from Finland, industry commissioner Antonio Tajani of Italy, and Poland's Janusz Lewandowski, previously in charge of the EU budget.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Outgoing commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said their portfolios will be temporarily taken over by other commissioners, pending the hearings and appointment of their successors.

Siim Kalllas, Estonia's commissioner in charge of transport policies, is taking over the economics portfolio, while Austria's Johannes Hahn, responsible for regional policy, will also look after justice and fundamental rights.

Industrial policies are going to France's Michel Barnier, who is in charge of the single market and financial services, while development commissioner Andris Piebalgs of Latvia will oversee budget matters.

Three other commissioners who were elected to the EP have not given up their jobs, in the hope that their governments will send them again as commissioners in autumn: Slovakia's Maros Sefcovic (administration and inter-institutional relations), Croatia's Nevem Mimica (consumer protection) and Belgium's Karel De Gucht (trade).

As for the successors to the four commissioners who have just headed to the EP, Finland has nominated former Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen for the job, while Italy put forward Fernando Nelli Feroci, a career diplomat who was the country's permanent representative in Brussels until last year.

Poland nominated Jacek Dominik, a director within the European Investment Bank, and Luxembourg went with Martine Reicherts, a yoga teacher who works in the EU commission's publications department. Reicherts will step down once Jean-Claude Juncker, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, is elected EU commission president.

Barroso can put replacement commissioners in charge of portfolios different to their predecessors.

The four new commissioners have to pass through parliamentary hearings and two are expected to stay on in the new commission, as governments can also send someone else when the Barroso commission finishes its term in October.

Meanwhile, the commissioners from Germany and France - Guenther Oettinger and Michel Barnier - two of the commissioners who earned normal salaries of €20,000 per month, will get a boost of €3,150 per month until October as they have been upgraded to vice-presidents of the commission.

Oettinger is likely to stay on in the new commission, but it will be up to the new commission chief to decide whether to keep him as a vice-president.

Juncker, who is expected to be confirmed as the new commission president in a European Parliament vote on 16 July, will later that day meet with EU leaders in Brussels to discuss top posts within his team, notably the high representative for foreign and security policy, who is also vice-president of the commission.

A restructuring of the EU commission is also on the table, with France, Germany and Britain pushing for so-called cluster portfolios for big overarching topics in line with the priorities EU leaders would like to focus on: employment, migration, social protection, energy, and foreign affairs.

But smaller member states are wary of this restructuring and point to the EU treaty which says that all commissioners are equal.

Economics, trade, and energy portfolios are considered top dossiers, along with the foreign affairs portfolio.

Bulgaria's centre-right Kristalina Georgieva is one of the names floated for the foreign affairs post. An alternative candidate for the job is Slovakia's foreign minister Miroslav Lajcak, Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, and Italian FM Federica Mogherini - all from the centre-left.

Spain and France, meanwhile, are eyeing the economics post or heading the Eurogroup, while Britain would like to get the trade portfolio for Andrew Lansley, the speaker of the House of Commons.

Poland, after seeing few chances to scoop the foreign policy post for Radek Sikorski, is after the energy dossier, something Germany is also eyeing.

Other countries are also maximising their chances by keeping their current commissioners: Romania is likely to send Dacian Ciolos - the current agriculture commissioner - for another term, while Austria is to keep Johannes Hahn, in charge of regional affairs.


Cyprus seeks EU support on reunification

EU states should be "more vocal" with Turkey and play a more political role on reunification, Cyprus' EU ambassador told EUobserver.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity