Thursday

9th Dec 2021

New commission sees greater role for Juncker deputies

  • Juncker: 'I am a modest chap, I am not a dictator'

The new EU commission will have a less centralised power structure, with Jean-Claude Juncker delegating more responsibilities to his deputies.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday (10 September) to present his new team, Juncker said that he has "decided to make some changes and shake things up a bit."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He described himself as a "modest chap, not a dictator" willing to share his prerogatives with the seven vice-presidents, who will now also be able to reject any legislative proposals coming from their colleagues.

One of the novelties will be his "First Vice-President", Frans Timmermans, currently Dutch foreign minister.

"Timmermans will be my right hand, more than just a colleague, he will be my deputy if I'm unable to be physically or mentally present, for instance in the college [of commissioners]," Juncker said.

Timmermans, in charge of "better regulation", will act as a filter for new legislation proposed by his colleagues, making sure that the EU commission doesn't get lost in details and focuses on "big things".

Bulgaria's Kristalina Georgieva, currently commissioner for humanitarian aid, got a lot of praise from Juncker for her international recognition and was awarded a vice-president post for budget and human resources.

Juncker had promised to give women better jobs to compensate for them being outnumbered by their male colleagues. Federica Mogherini, the EU's high representative for foreign and security policy is also a vice-president, as well as Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek, in charge of coordinating commissioners related to the "Energy Union" programme.

The other six female commissioners are also in charge of weightier portfolios compared to many of their male colleagues.

Sweden's Cecilia Malmstroem, the outgoing home affairs commissioner, will be in charge of trade - which includes the giant EU-US free trade agreement currently under negotiation.

Denmark's economy minister Margrethe Vestager will take on competition, another of the EU commission's most powerful portfolios, as she will have the power to issue fines against companies that break EU's anti-cartel rules.

Poland's Elzbieta Bienkowska, currently minister for infrastructure and development, will be in charge of internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises.

Romanian MEP Corina Cretu will get regional development, Belgian MEP Marianne Thyssen will be in charge of "employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility" and Czech regional development minister Vera Jourova will have the "justice, consumers and gender equality portfolio."

Overlapping posts on economy

Meanwhile, the "flexible teams" structure Juncker has introduced may lead to clashes and confusions as to who is responsible for what, especially on the economics front, where he had to divide competences among 11 candidates with "a very solid economic and finance background."

France may have got its way in having ex-finance minister Pierre Moscovici in charge of the "economic and financial affairs", which is now also combined with taxation and customs.

But he will be part of two teams overseen by fiscal hawks: former Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and former Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, who are both vice-presidents on economic matters.

Katainen has the overarching post for "Jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness", which according to an EU source means he will be "in charge of raising €300bn in three months" as Juncker promised in his political priorities.

Dombrovskis, vice-president for "the euro and social dialogue" will oversee the European Semester and whatever Moscovici does.

"The teams are not static, the composition of the groups will have to change sometimes. The two vice-presidents will also have to work closely together," Juncker explained.

In a somewhat unexpected move, Juncker decided to give countries what they most wanted - Britain's Lord Hill got financial services, while Germany's Guenther Oettinger got "digital economy and society", and France economic affairs.

"The countries most concerned also have the best expertise," he said.

The nominees will now appear before the European Parliament's legislative committees in the coming weeks before MEPs take the final vote on whether to appoint the new Commission.

Juncker set to unveil new commission

The new EU commission chief is to present his new team and their posts on Wednesday. Here is a round-up of the latest portfolio speculations.

Agenda

EU commissioner portfolio decisions this WEEK

A major piece in the making of the EU institutional puzzle is to go into place next week when incoming EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker hands out portfolios to his team of commissioners.

Names list for new EU commission complete

The list of proposed new EU commissioners is now complete, with enough women for the European Parliament to approve the 28-strong team led by Jean-Claude Juncker.

Katainen vague on €300bn investment plan

Tuesday's EP hearing of Finland's Katainen, one of seven new super-commissioners, shed little light on where the money for a vaunted €300bn investment plan will come from.

Juncker's economic balancing act

Even Jean-Claude Juncker’s critics would agree that the new Commission president is a skilled deal-maker.

News in Brief

  1. No US troops going to Ukraine, Biden said
  2. UK's Johnson apologises in Christmas party scandal
  3. Kaczyński harming LGBTI people's mental health
  4. Scholz sworn in as new German chancellor
  5. Corporate due diligence delay 'unacceptable,' NGOs say
  6. Triple shot of BioNTech, Pfizer 'effective' against Omicron
  7. 80% of products sold online 'breach chemicals laws'
  8. Saudi man released over Khashoggi killing

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Latest News

  1. 'Agriculture as sovereignty' under the French EU presidency
  2. EU leaders to raise alarm on eastern 'destabilisation'
  3. Commission plan allows police to shoot suspects in other EU states
  4. Caruana Galizia family urges EU not to fund 'corrupt' gas pipeline
  5. EU banks finance destructive Chinese dam builder in Congo
  6. EU plans new trade defence tool to deter economic coercion
  7. EU to announce new mandatory rules on child sexual content
  8. WHO warns mandatory vaccination 'absolute last resort'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us