Unveiled: the new structure of the next European Commission under Ursula von der Leyen.
The President-elect Ursula von der Leyen nominates a new team of commissioners, including Bulgaria’s Mariya Gabriel to take charge of Horizon Europe.
The President-elect Ursula von der Leyen presented a new ‘geopolitical Commission committed to sustainable policies’ with an aspiration to become ‘the world’s first climate-neutral continent’: “I want Europe to be the front-runner. I want Europe to be the exporter of knowledge, technologies and best practice.”
A twin transition in climate and digitalisation issues are highlighted as priorities for the new team of Commissioners as well as addressing Europe’s changes in demography. “They will steer our work on the most important overarching issues, such as the European Green Deal, a Europe fit for the digital age, an economy that works for people, protecting our European way of life, a stronger Europe in the world and a new push for European democracy”.
The Eight Vice-Presidents will be a part of the new College including the High-Representative of the Union for Foreign Policy and Security Policy. The Vice-Presidents hold responsibility for the highest priorities in the Political Guidelines. At the core of the new College, there are the Commissioners which manage the proficiency portrayed through the Directorates-General.
Regarding management of Horizon Europe, the incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, nominated Bulgaria’s Mariya Gabriel to take charge. Part of Ms Gabriel’s brief is to “ensure sufficient investment flows to disruptive research and breakthrough innovations, notably through the European Innovation Council.”
Gabriel is also called on to work with member states “to build a true European Research Area”, oversee a “tripling” of the Erasmus+ student exchange programme, and ensure the “full implementation” of the European universities initiative, all programmes currently under Navracsics.
Her nomination has been generally well received yet there are some concerns that “fighting for both Erasmus and Horizon Europe in the college makes the latter programme vulnerable”.
Besides this, the commission also announced the creation of a new directorate for defence to manage the recently-established European Defence Fund.
For the next phase, the European Parliament must give its approval to the team of Commissioners. As soon as the Parliament give its consent, the European Council appoints the European Commission.
Meet the Commissioners
Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal
Frans Timmermans (the Netherlands):
Former Dutch foreign minister. Former first Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Polyglot. Defender of the single-use plastic ban.
Executive vice president for the Digital Age
Margrethe Vestager (Denmark):
Former Danish Cabinet minister. Former European Commissioner for Competition. Ex-political leader of the Social Liberal Party (2011-2014)
The Vice-President for Innovation and Youth
Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria):
Responsible for digital economy and society in outgoing Commission. Won the MEP of the year prize twice during her time as an MEP 2009 and 2017. Was a teacher and a researcher at Sciences Po Bordeaux. Wants to close the digital gender gap. Focuses on fake news, digital skills and the promotion of the European audiovisual sector.
The Vice-President for Energy
Kadri Simson (Estonia):
Member of the Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament), Chairman of the Estonian Centre Party faction, and Leader of the Estonian NATO Parliamentary Assembly Delegation. Known in Tallinn for being very loyal to her Center Party. Unsuccessfully challenged for leadership of her party in 2015. Brought up in the university town of Tartu.
The Vice-President for Industrial policy, Digital Single Market and a new Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space
Sylvie Goulard (France):
Second Deputy-Governor of the Bank of France. Short-lived Minister of Defence. Very plugged-in EU integrationist who speaks German and Italian. Stood for the European Parliament presidency in 2016. Ex-Member of the European Parliament for ALDE (2009-2017).
The Vice-President for Environment and Oceans
Virginijus Sinkevičius (Lithuania):
Youngest Commission nominee, at 28. Entered politics in 2016. Member of the Farmers and Greens Union party. Studied in the U.K. and the Netherlands. Worked for the Lithuania Tribune news portal.
The Vice-President for Agriculture
Janusz Wojciechowski (Poland):
Polish member of the European Court of Auditors. Former Member of the European Parliament of the European People’s Party, Europe of Nations and Freedom, and European Conservatives and Reformists (2004-2016).
The Vice-President for Transport
Rovana Plumb (Romania):
Romanian MEP from the ruling PSD party. Former EU funds minister. Vice chair of the Socialists and Democrats group. Ex-Minister of Labour, Family, Social and Elderly Protection (2014-2015), and ex-Minister of Environment and Climate Change (2012-2014).