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Juncker's new-look Commission - a winning team?

Posted by Nick Prag at 11 September 2014, 21:10 CET |
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Last week we learned the names of the new top team for the EU over the next five years. This week Commission President-elect Jean Claude Juncker announced his new Commission team. Is this the start of a new era of policy-making at European level?

It is a high-powered team, which includes 9 former prime ministers or deputy prime ministers, 19 former ministers, 7 returning Commissioners and 8 former Members of the European Parliament.

Stand-out appointments are former French finance minister Pierre Moscovici as economic affairs Commissioner - the most coveted job in the new regime  - and also giving the new financial services post for Britain's Jonathan Hill, former head of the House of Lords.

Mr Moscovici has won the post despite the fact that France has set a poor example in bringing its deficit down to the EU norm of three per cent of GDP. Lord Hill has been called a deal-maker and fixer, but is as yet hardly known outside Westminster.

Germany's Guenther Oettinger has been named as the digital economy Commissioner, Denmark's Margrethe Vestager is competition Commissioner and Sweden's Cecilia Malmstroem gets trade - a job that is going to involve lengthy negotiations for the vast trade deal with the United States. Spain's Miguel Arias Canete has been given the energy and climate post.

A point of note is that the environment will not now have its own designated Commissioner. The decision to merge major environmental portfolios has not been welcomed by environmental groups - at a time when environmental problems are looming larger on the political agenda.

Indeed the roles given to the team of representatives – one per EU Member State – includes significant changes in portfolios compared to the outgoing Commissioners. Five Vice-President positions leading teams of Commissioners have also been created, including one with responsibility for 'better regulation', although it is unclear how these will work in practice.

So now the Commission must get down to work, and it has without doubt some tough issues to tackle - including a stagnant economy, rising euroscepticism in Europe and the Ukraine crisis on its borders.

Or at least when the Commissioners' mandate starts, which is on November 1.

Before that, the proposed Commissioners need to pass what is bound to be an uncomfortable grilling from the European Parliament committees, before the plenary passes its vote on the 28-member College of Commissioners later this month.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of EUbusiness.com. Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.