The composition and portfolio distribution of her College of Commissioners, announced by Ursula von der Leyen, the first female European Commission President, has caused a stir in Brussels. Her determination to achieve gender balance – with 13 men and 12 women nominated for the various roles – in the new Commission has clearly appeared to go down well with policymakers. It is now up to the European Parliament needs to ratify the selection in nomination hearings. There will be six vice presidents.
“I am grateful to present my well-balanced, agile and modern Commission that is led with determination, clearly focused on the issues at hand and provides answers,” President-elect von der Leyen said on Tuesday. Hailing it as her “first major achievement”, Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP group, who himself was a candidate for the Commission presidency earlier in the summer, welcomed what “surely (was) a gender-balanced College” that was also “an important signal for the rest of Europe and the world.” Nine of the team come from the EPP group with another nine from the Socialists.
A key appointment is that of Margrethe Vestager, a 51-year-old Danish liberal and another unsuccessful Commission presidency nominee, who will be responsible for digital affairs and competition. Sylvie Goulard, from France, has also been given a key role, the internal market dossier, including defense, whereby, as von der Leyen said, “we have to make our single market fit for the digital age, we need to make the most of A1 and big data. We have to improve on cybersecurity and we have to work hard for our technological sovereignty.”
Frans Timmermans is yet another Brussels veteran, nominated for one of the top portfolios, who will boost the new 27-strong Commission’s efforts at fighting against climate change. “We look forward to Frans Timmermans leading the Commission’s climate work. We are expecting him to deliver on his campaign promise to urgently increase the EU’s ambition on climate” Wendel Trio, Director, Climate Action Network. Parliament’s former President Josep Borrell Fontelles, from Spain, has also been appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to replace Federica Mogherini.