Friday

19th Jul 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.

Analysis

What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

The vote on von der Leyen showed the fundamental change in EU politics. The rise of the European Parliament, the power of political parties, and the fragmentation of politics, are new realities to be taken into account.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  2. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  3. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  4. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  5. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  6. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'
  7. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  8. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us