Friday

24th May 2019

UK nominates obscure Lord for EU commission

  • Lord Hill - From "non, non, non" to becoming the UK's next EU commissioner. (Photo: parliament.uk)

British PM David Cameron has made Lord Jonathan Hill his surprise nomination to be the UK's next EU commissioner.

The nomination of Hill, a relative unknown in domestic politics, is part of the UK leader's most significant reshuffle of his cabinet since taking office in 2010, as he prepares his team for next year's general election.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

One of the more junior members of the cabinet, Hill has been leader of the House of Lords since 2013, after spending three years as a junior education minister.

If the move is a surprise to pundits, who had expected a big-hitter to secure the EU job, it will also come as a surprise to the nominee himself who had previously suggested that he would turn down the post if offered it.

In an interview last month with the ConservativeHome website, Hill said that he would reply “non, non, non” if offered the job by Cameron.

However, in a statement on Tuesday (15 July), Hill said that he was “excited” to accept the nomination.

“When the next European elections take place, I want to be able to say to people across Europe – including Britain – that the European Commission has heeded their concerns and changed the EU for the better.”

Despite his lack of experience in office, Hill has a reputation as a backroom fixer. He served as an advisor first for Tory veteran Ken Clarke, and then for prime minister John Major between 1991 and 1994, during which time the Maastricht treaty, which secured Britain’s opt-out from the social chapter and the euro, was ratified.

He then set up his own lobbying company – Quiller Consultants – in London.

Hill is likely to become an important figure as Cameron attempts to re-draw the UK’s EU membership terms ahead of a possible referendum in 2017.

But his relative inexperience and lack of profile reduces the chances that he will be given one of the top economic portfolios in the EU executive under Jean-Claude Juncker.

Hill will replace EU foreign affairs chief Cathy Ashton, the UK's current top EU official, becoming the second commissioner in a row to come from the House of Lords, and meaning that Cameron can avoid holding a by-election.

In his ConservativeHome interview, Hill commented that this was the main argument in favour of appointing him.

“I assume ... that the reason I ever got put publicly in the frame for it is the assumption that people want to find an MP, and then they think, oh gosh, there’s a problem with a by-election,” he said.

So far only a handful of governments have confirmed who their nominees will be for the first Juncker Commission.

Current commissioners Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia) and Johannes Hahn (Austria) have been re-nominated, while Estonian MEP Andrus Ansip, Latvian MEP Vladis Dombrovskis, Maltese politician Karmenu Vella, and Irish environment minister Phil Hogan are the others to be confirmed as nominees.

The hearings in the European Parliament will take place in September before MEPs vote on the new European Commission.

Cameron mends ties with Juncker

British PM Cameron has reached out to Juncker, after having failed to prevent his nomination as European Commission chief.

EUobserved

Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'

The victory of the Dutch EU commissioner is news across the EU, yet the Netherlands is not allowed to publish the official result until Sunday evening.

EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'

EU leaders praised Theresa May's commitment to deliver an orderly Brexit - while they now brace themselves for an even more eurosceptic British prime minister.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Exclusive

EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal

An Austrian criminal intelligence service persuaded Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini to set up a unit in Sicily against migrant smuggling, while in Senegal EU development money is financing an European-police led reform of Dakar's defence and interior ministries.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Don't tell the Dutch - but Timmermans 'won'
  2. EU says goodbye to May with 'respect'
  3. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  4. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  5. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  6. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'
  7. EU sanctions regime cannot be an 'EU Magnitsky Act'
  8. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us