On 10 September 2014, incoming President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced the structure and allocation of portfolios for the next European Commission (2014-2019). Like his predecessors, Juncker has restructured the Commission to provide policy responsibilities to an increased number of Commissioners-designate. Unlike his predecessors, Juncker has proposed a First Vice President and a de facto two-tier Commission that would downgrade many influential portfolios.
The new Commission will be organised as seven Project Teams, each led by a Vice-President. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans is nominated as First Vice-President with responsibility for Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Timmermans will also serve as Juncker’s deputy. Timmermans will oversee a Project Team including the Home Affairs and expanded Justice portfolios. Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, the EU’s new High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, is nominated as Vice-President and will oversee a Project Team including the Enlargement, Development, Humanitarian Aid and Trade portfolios.
The other Vice-Presidents nominated are former Prime Ministers Andrus Ansip (Estonia), Alenka Bratušek (Slovenia), Vladis Dombrovskis (Latvia) and Jyrki Katainen (Finland) with current Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Kristalina Georgieva (Bulgaria).
Amongst the other nominations are some notable surprises. French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici is nominated as Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. This follows the announcement last month that France will miss its deficit reduction target. Moscovici’s nomination may have implications for the stalled Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) proposal, which is listed amongst the policy priorities in his mission letter published by the European Commission. Another surprise is the nomination of the UK’s Lord Hill as Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union. Few had expected Juncker to seriously consider UK government demands for a senior economic portfolio never mind the portfolio including EU financial services legislation. Hill’s mission letter cites priorities including a “jobs, growth and investment package” to be presented by the end of January next and including legislation to “revive” securitisation markets as well delivering the Single Resolution Board, reviewing the financing of the European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, ESMA, EIOPA) and building Juncker’s flagship Capital Markets Union. Moscovici and Hill will work together in a Project Team overseen by Katainen.
Elsewhere former Spanish Minister of Agriculture and MEP Miguel Arias Cañete is nominated as Commissioner for Energy and Climate Change – a new restructured portfolio. German Günther Oettinger is nominated as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society – a relatively humble new portfolio for the current Commissioner for Energy. Former Danish Minister for Economic Affairs Margrethe Vestager is nominated as Commissioner for Competition.
Restructured portfolios means big changes across the Commission’s services. As had been rumoured, DG Internal Market and Services looks set to be split in two. So too, DG Health and Consumers. It is likely that DG Climate Action will be merged into DG Energy, although less clear whether DG Taxation and Customs Union, DG Environment and DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will remain independent.
The Commissioners-designate face confirmation hearings in the European Parliament from 22 September. Legislators have in recent years bumped at least one Commissioner-designate in hearings. Hill, Cañete and Maltese Commissioner-designate Karmenu Vella (Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) may be in for a rough ride. The new College of Commissioners will take office on 1 November.
View Pierre Moscovici – Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, 10 September 2014