Thoughts on Von der Leyen’s proposed Commissioners

Dear all,

The European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen just presented her leadership team proposal for the coming 5 years. It is a strong positive signal that she is strengthening the digital agenda with Margarethe Vestager and that she is putting climate-policy as a priority in the hands of Frans Timmermans. For our key priority of EU reform, I look forward to Dubravka Šuica’s proposal on the Conference on the Future of Europe. Finally, I am especially happy about the near-parity between women (13) and men (14) in her team – which is an unprecedented signal for women empowerment in politics!

However, I see two important issues: first, the choice of the people she presented was not really hers. Each national government has the right to select one member of the Commission. In a few cases, this resulted in the nomination of individuals who lack European ambition and competence – especially on the male half of her team. Even without digging into their respective backgrounds, some nominees’ moral compass and past political actions seem, at best, questionable.

Second, I cannot shake off the impression that the allocation of some posts followed primarily national interests. I wonder, for example, how effective a nominee from Poland, a country heavily dependent on agricultural subsidies, will be in reforming the EU’s agricultural policy. It remains to be seen, whether all Commissioners are able to remain independent of the influence of their home governments. Just to remind everyone, the European treaties state that Commissioners “shall neither seek nor take instructions from any government or other institutions.”

So, what is my take away from this? This Commission still bears the very visible mark of the compromise between national governments that got Ms von der Leyen into her position. As I have criticised before, European voters have not had a say in her nomination. On top of this democratic deficit, the President of the Commission has to follow national governments’ choices for the members of her own team instead of choosing them based on merit. This needs to be reformed! We need to move towards a functioning European parliamentary democracy! This is Volt’s vision and my mission over the next 5 years.

In the Parliament, we will now focus on preparing strong questions for the nominees, to test their resolve in changing Europe for the better.