Thursday

24th Jun 2021

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

  • Ursula von der Leyen's full team of commissioners

MEPs gave the green light to the whole new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg on Wednesday (27 November), after president-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented her team and programme.

The commission was approved - with 461 votes in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions. A total of 707 MEPs voted.

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The majority of MEPs from the Greens abstained in the vote, saying they would like the commission to be more ambitious on climate and social policies.

"Green headlines are just not enough. Without a deep reform of the agriculture policy and the trade agenda, any climate policy must remain half-hearted, and we just don't have the time for that," said the co-president of the Greens Ska Keller.

The leftist group GUE/NGL did not support von der Leyen's team either, because "the political orientation of the commission does not answer what the people and the planet need in terms of the environmental and social problem," the co-president of the political group, Manon Aubry, said on Tuesday.

The European Parliament approved the entire commission after the European Council adopted the list of commissioner-candidates on Monday - a requirement for the new commission to begin its five-years term on December 1.

The time for the commission to take office was postponed from 1 November to 1 December after MEPs previously rejected three commissioner-candidates - Hungarian László Trócsányi, Romanian Rovana Plumb and French Sylvie Goulard.

All three replacements were approved earlier this month, despite MEPs' concerns about the independence from Viktor Orban's government of new Hungarian candidate Oliver Varhelyi, the lack of expertise of new Romanian Adina-Ioana Valean and the possible conflict of interests of French businessman Thierry Breton.

The centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and centre-right European People's Party (EPP) dominate the field - more so than they did in the EU parliament election in May, although the EPP has ten commissioners and the socialists only nine.

The liberals have six commissioners, while both the Greens and the conservatives of ECR have one each.

The UK has not proposed a commissioner in von der Leyen's team, due to its Brexit departure scheduled for 31 January - unless another delay is agreed.

However, Britain's decision not to put forward a candidate, despite repeated requests from Brussels, prompted the commission to initiate infringement proceedings against the UK earlier this month.

The plenary vote ended the parliament's process of examination of the proposed team of commissioners, ensuring the democratic legitimacy of the EU's executive body.

The new European Commission: what's next?

Informal interviews with von der Leyen, hearings with parliamentary committees, and votes in the EU parliament and Council await the 26 candidates.

MEPs block Romanian and Hungarian 'commissioners'

In an unprecedented move, MEPs in the legal affairs committee said there were conflicts of interests for two commissioner-designates. Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen will now have to decide what to do with them.

French EU nominee loses vote and is out

France's nominee for EU commissioner lost the vote on her candidacy, with 82 MEPs against and 29 in favour, after hard questions in a second hearing.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

Future of Europe: Nearly half of citizens want reforms

European Parliament president David Sassoli called for the Conference on the Future of Europe "to start as soon as possible". Meanwhile, nearly half of EU citizens would like to see reforms to the bloc.

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