Commission, changing methods

Juncker Commission due to take office in November presented in Brussels

Smiling, ironic and apparently relieved, Jean-Claude Juncker, experienced Luxembourgian politician, after a "very short" summer and negotiations that resembled a calvary, has managed to square the circle. On September 10 he finally presented his team before the Berlaymont building, the headquarters of the EU Commission in Brussels, due to take office on November 1st after the hearings and provided a positive vote by Parliament. Juncker himself admitted that he carried out "intense negotiations" with Member States to put together a well-balanced College, mindful of geographic specificities and of the weight of political parties, with a female presence comparable to that of Barroso’s team. Team work. Juncker outlined the profile of the college that will hold office for 5 years. But first of all, he paid tribute to his predecessor José Manuel Barroso, whose mandate expires at the end of October – "a friend, a brother". "His Commission – Juncker pointed out – has faced enormous problems, from EU enlargement to the economic crisis", "thereby expanding its powers" to face an increasingly complex situation. Juncker did not illustrate his political Guidelines – presented to Parliament and Council in July. Instead, he described the composition of the College and the portfolios assigned to each Commissioner, stressing that "we will be working as a team, sharing responsibilities and decisions", "and not as a silos of national interests", "for common goals." As regards the "quality" of the Commissioners he then remarked: "They are all high-level politicians. I can personally vouch for their competence and experience." Juncker’s college includes 9 former Prime Ministers or Deputy Prime Ministers, 19 former Ministers, 7 returning Commissioners and 8 former Members of the European Parliament. Their mean age is 53. "11 of these have a very solid economic and finance background, whilst 8 have extensive foreign relations experience" Juncker pointed out. There are nine female Commissioners, including the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Italian minister Federica Mogherini. "Getting nine female Commissioners was a real struggle. I spent the whole month of August on the phone" to get them on board, he said. The portfolios. One of the changes introduced by Juncker is the creation of a First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans (NL). "He will co-ordinate the work" of the College and "replace me – Juncker added as a joke – in the case of physical or mental illness". "We will do better by doing less", pointed out the Luxembourgian politician, indicating among his priorities the battle against red tape. Then Juncker went through the list of portfolios confirming the rumours that have been circulating in the past few days: Pierre Moscovici (France) will be entrusted with the strategically important post of Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs ("monetary affairs will remain the competence of the ECB"). However, economic responsibilities will be shared also with other offices, including that for the euro and social dialogue, "which cannot be separated". Real economy, migration. "In these unprecedented times, Europe’s citizens expect results. After years of economic hardship and often painful reforms, Europeans expect a performing economy, sustainable jobs, more social protection, safer borders, energy security and digital opportunities." In the presentation of his Commission Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the "mission" of the Executive: "this team will put Europe back on the path to jobs and growth. We have to be open to change." "What I present to you today" – he said – "is a political, dynamic and effective European Commission, geared to give Europe its new start. I am putting 27 players in the field, each of whom has a specific role to play, this is my winning team." Each Vice-President will co-ordinate a project team that mirrors the Political Guidelines. Examples include ‘Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness’, ‘Digital Single Market’ or ‘Energy Union’. "This will ensure a dynamic interaction of all Members of the College, breaking down silos and moving away from static structures", Juncker outlined. Important novelties within the College, in addition to the figure of the First Vice-President, include the Internal Market Industry, Entrepreneurship and SME portfolio (under Elžbieta Bieńkowska) that "will be the engine house of the real economy." Moreover, the president-elect has also created a Commissioner specifically for Migration – headed by Dimitris Avramopoulos, "to prioritise a new policy on migration that will robustly tackle irregular migration, whilst at the same time making Europe an attractive destination for top talent."

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