Monday

25th May 2020

Six commissioners head for EU election campaign trail

  • Seven of the EU's twenty eight commissioners are standing in May's European Parliament elections (Photo: European Parliament)

Six EU commissioners will officially hit the campaign trail later this month as part of their candidacies for May's European elections.

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

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or subscribe as a group

In a statement on Wednesday (2 April), European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso granted electoral leave to the Commissioners between 19 April and 25 May, with the exception of Rehn whose electoral leave will start next week on 7 April.

Under the rules of the EU executive's Code of Conduct the leave period is unpaid and during that period the commissioners are forbidden from using the commission's resources. All commissioners on electoral leave will return to work on 26 May, the day after the votes of Europeans are counted.

Of the seven commissioners hoping to win over voters, Finnish economic affairs official Olli Rehn, who has been the commission's point-man throughout the eurozone crisis, is the most well known. Despite being defeated by Belgian Guy Verhofstadt as the pan-EU Liberal party's candidate for commission president, Rehn is widely expected to win a seat running on the ticket of Finland's liberal centre party.

In the meantime, Estonian transport commissioner Siim Kallas will take over Rehn's responsibilities.

Elsewhere, In a reshuffle of portfolios, Sefcovic will have his duties taken over by Barroso.

Meanwhile, Reding's portfolio will be taken over by Johannes Hahn, the Austrian commissioner for regional policy, while internal market chief Michel Barnier will take over Tajani's post.

Latvian development commissioner Andris Piebalgs will take responsibility for Lewandowski's role, and Hungary's Laszlo Andor will add Mimica's consumer portfolio to his employment brief.

All the candidates have been placed at the top of their party's election list and are almost certain to be elected in May.

Meanwhile, trade commissioner Karel De Gucht will also try to get an MEP post. But he is just the 12th and last candidate for the Verhofstadt-led Flemish liberal party in Belgium and will not actively campaign, leaving him free to continue his EU duties.

If elected, those who decide to take up their seat in the 751-member Parliament will be expected to resign from the commission by the end of June.

But some argue that commissioners elected as MEPs should immediately stand down from the EU executive to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Agenda

Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK

Tough negotiations start this week on both the EU's recovery fund and its revised long-term budget, which are likely to determine the entire future of the bloc.

Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants

Alarm Phone, a hotline service for migrants in distress, has released video footing showing an Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) boat making dangerous manoeuvres next to people swimming for their lives at sea. Malta does not deny the footage.

Opinion

How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending

Among the casualties of coronavirus - worldwide and in the EU - is the defence sector. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has not made the world a less dangerous place and there is no alternative to having a functioning defence system.

Column

That German court ruling hurts EU rule-of-law fightback

The short-term damage to financial markets may be smaller than feared. The damage to democracy is considerable because it weakened the ECJ - the most effective institution to stop attacks against democracy and rule of law in EU member states.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us