Member States put forward their nominees for the new European Commissioners last week. President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has now allocated titles and portfolios. What does this all mean for tech and trade policy in the new term?
One of three Executive Vice-Presidents, Margrethe Vestager (Renew Europe/Denmark), will, as widely expected, coordinate the agenda on a “Europe fit for the digital age”. She will also continue as Commissioner for Competition, overseeing the EU’s anti-trust regulations and reviewing Europe’s competition rules. According to the mission letter, her “task over the next five years will be to ensure our competition policy and rules are fit for the modern economy, vigorously enforced and contribute to a strong European industry at home and in the world”.
The Danish Commissioner will also play an important role in Europe’s future industrial policy: “The competitiveness of our industry depends on a level playing field that provides business with the incentive to invest, innovate and grow. EU state aid rules should support this where there are market failures.”
The French nominee, Sylvie Goulard, will also have responsibilities in digital policy. She will be in charge of internal market, industrial policy and digital single market. She will also lead a new directorate for Defense Industry and Space, that will cover cybersecurity policy. According to the letter of mission, she will also aim to enhance Europe’s technological sovereignty, lead the work on artificial intelligence and the Digital Services Act and focus on a single market for cybersecurity.
Mariya Gabriel, the Bulgarian nominee that is currently digital commissioner, gets the Innovation and Youth portfolio. Her role will also cover audiovisual, Horizon Europe, and education, including Erasmus exchange, the European Education Area and the Digital Education Action Plan.
Věra Jourová, currently Justice Commissioner, becomes Vice President for Values and Transparency, a portfolio that will include consumer and data protection policies. Didier Reynders, the Belgian nominee, was allocated the portfolio of justice commissioner and is tasked with ensuring the implementation – and international promotion – of GDPR.
Who are the other executive vice-presidents?
Valdis Dombrovskis, a former prime minister of Latvia and current Commission vice president, will be executive vice president for economic and financial affairs. Former Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will be commissioner for economy. And Phil Hogan, the Irish nominee, will be the new trade chief.
Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands will be executive vice president for the "European Green Deal".
The European Parliament will now screen the nominees in hearings scheduled for the end of this month. Each candidate will be invited to a three-hour hearing, streamed live, in front of the parliamentary committee or committees responsible for the portfolio they have been assigned. Following the hearing, the responsible committees prepare their evaluation of the candidate’s competence, which is then finalised by the Conference of Presidents, made up of the leaders of the political groups and the Parliament's president.
Once the hearings are completed, Parliament will vote into office the new Commission.