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The New European Commission

September 12, 2014

After several months of tensions, media spins, and complicated negotiations with the EU member states, the newly appointed president of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, presented a list of new EU commissioners who will take office on November 1, 2014. Juncker’s choice of commissioners, as well as the proposed changes in the EC structure, suggest that Juncker intends to lead the EC much differently from his predecessor Jose Manuel Barroso.
One of the proposed changes in the EC structure is that the First Vice-President of the EC will have an expanded set of competencies. In the new EC, the First Vice-President will have the power of supervising the Commissioners whose portfolios are intertwined. The first Vice-President will be able to supervise the legal proposals of these Commissioners with a veto right over any proposal. Juncker chose the Dutch Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans, for this position. According to Juncker, “the First Vice-President will practically have the same competencies as I and he will be my right hand.”

Besides Timmermans, six other Vice- Presidents are:

Federica Mogherini, Italy – European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/ Commission’s Vice-President
Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria – Commission’s Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources
Alenka Bratušek, Slovenia – Commission’s Vice-President for Energy Union
Jyrki Katalnen, Finland – Commission’s Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness
Valdis Dombrovskis, Latvia – Commission’s Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue
Andrus Ansip, Estonia – Commission’s Vice-President for the Digital Single Market

All seven Vice-Presidents will share competencies with the EC President in terms of having the power to reject any legislation that comes from other commissioners. As an example, Valdis Dombrovskis, who is in charge of the Euro and Social Dialogue, will work closely with both French Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, in charge of Economic and Financial Affairs, and Belgian Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, in charge of Social Affairs. These two Commissioners would report to Vice-President Dombrovskis before an item is put on the agenda of the Commission’s weekly College meeting. As Juncker explained, Vice-Presidents will act as “filters.”

According to the EC statement, “Vice-Presidents will lead project teams, steering and coordinating the work of a number of Commissioners. This will ensure a dynamic interaction of all Members of the College, breaking down silos and moving away from static structures.”

The representatives of France, Britain, and Germany, have become commissioners in charge of major economic departments. As previously mentioned, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici will be Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. Britain’s Jonathan Hill will lead the department in charge of financial services, and German Guenther Oettinger will no longer lead the department of energy, but will be responsible for the digital economy. The department that takes care of the Energy Community has been entrusted to former Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek, while Austria’s Johannes Hahn became a commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

The entire structure of the new EC can be found at this link:

Proposed EC candidates have yet to hear the vote of the European Parliament (EP) and some candidates might have difficulty in securing a majority in the EP. In addition, Juncker’s flexible structure of the EC could also be a source of conflict and tension within the EU member states, since many departments, especially economic ones, are quite intertwined. Competencies in the field of economics, Juncker divided between eleven candidates who represent different perspectives and interests about the development of the European economy. Nevertheless, Juncker has so far been very successful in reaching a compromise between the “socialist” Paris, the “Euro-sceptic” London, and the “sparing” Berlin in a way that every side received an important influence on the development of the EU economy. After all, how Juncker’s project will work in practice, only time will tell.

The entire EC statement regarding the new structure of the EC can be found here:

The new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented the names of the 27 people he wants to work


the new EC

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