The Baltics should be very satisfied with European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen’s proposal on the makeup of the next European Commission, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs (New Unity) told LETA.
According to him, the division of EC portfolios is ”balanced, well though out and quite good”. Rinkēvičs said that the chosen commissioner candidates are strong and capable ones, and that he personally knows several of them – Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, and former Italian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
The minister praised the fact that the new composition of the EC took into account gender and regional balance and, in his opinion, the Baltic States can be particularly pleased considering that all their representatives were allocated very important portfolios. Latvia could be responsible for financial services, Lithuania for the environment and Estonia for energy.
Rinkēvičs believes that the new EC composition is the best possible when taking into account political, geographical and economic interests.
The Latvian foreign minister also praised the fact that the former Latvian prime minister and current EC vice president Valdis Dombrovskis (New Unity) will stay on as vice president in the next European Commission. ”This is an achievement for Latvia and the Baltics,” he said.
As reported, European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen unveiled her proposed team on Tuesday, vowing that it would take “bold” climate action, strengthen Europe’s global role and “stand up for values and world-class standards.”
Von der Leyen is set to succeed commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on November 1, following EU elections in May that splintered Europe’s political landscape. Her narrow confirmation in parliament was seen by many as a sign of the difficulties she will likely face, the DPA news agency reports.
The German politician has assembled a core team of three executive vice presidents, representing each of the main political groups she is likely to depend on for support.
Margrethe Vestager, of the liberals, is to keep her present job as EU competition commissioner as well as taking on digital issues. Current vice president Frans Timmermans, of the socialists, is to be tasked with realizing von der Leyen’s environmental vision of a climate neutral European Union by 2050.
Completing the triumvirate, von der Leyen picked Valdis Dombrovskis of Latvia, a fellow conservative, to oversee financial services and economic issues.
The commission is the EU’s executive, with a staff of around 32,000. The college of 27 commissioners – one for each member state except departing Britain – plays a key role in setting political priorities, initiating legislation and ensuring EU rules are adhered to.
The final line-up will be determined by the European Parliament, which will vote on the full package following a series of hustings. It is not unusual for EU lawmakers to reject certain names.
Question marks have been raised over von der Leyen’s choice of former Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni as economy commissioner, given the previous Italian government’s budget row with Brussels.
Asked about possible conflicts of interest, von der Leyen noted that the proposed commissioners “are now Europeans whose task is first and foremost to act in the interest of Europe.”
Budapest’s pick Laszlo Trocsanyi, who has been lined up for the enlargement portfolio, had backed controversial judicial reforms proposed by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. His Polish and Romanian counterparts are both under investigation, the former for expenses irregularities and the latter for abuse of office.
The leader of the Greens parliamentary group described Trocsanyi’s nomination as “very concerning” since he had “played an active role in undermining the rule of law.”
“We will have a lot of questions in the upcoming hearings,” Ska Keller wrote on Twitter.
Other nominees are less controversial, the DPA news agency reports.
Ireland’s Phil Hogan, the current agriculture commissioner, has been tapped to oversee trade and consequently negotiations on any future post-Brexit trade agreement with Britain. Hogan recently hit out at “unelected” British Prime Minister Johnson’s handling of London’s planned departure from the bloc.
Current Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova is to become Vice President for Values and Transparency. Together with Belgium’s Didier Reynders, who is set to inherit her current portfolio, she would take over EU efforts to tackle judicial reforms in neighbouring Poland.
France’s Sylvie Goulard is lined up as internal market commissioner, which will include the new defence industry and space directorate. In recent years, the EU has sought to carve out a more active role on defence issues and increase cooperation between member states.
The first woman to run the commission, von der Leyen has been intent on forming a gender-balanced commission. Her line-up contains 13 women, including herself, and 14 men.
She has also sought to hand weighty portfolios to central and eastern EU member states, none of which were awarded a top job in a package hashed out by EU leaders in July.
The youngest proposed commissioner is 28-year-old Virginijus Sinkevicius of Lithuania, taking over agriculture from Hogan. The oldest is Josep Borrell, aged 72, who is to succeed Federica Mogherini as EU foreign policy chief.