10 September, Brussels – Jean-Claude Juncker has announced the distribution of portfolios to his team of Commissioners, and in so doing has also presented a shake-up in the way that the Commission is to be run, with a streamlined Cabinet and Vice-Presidential ‘Project Leaders’.
The new Commission will contain seven vice-presidents, four of whom will be responsible for steering and co-ordinating Commissioners in Project Teams. The Team for ‘A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’ will aim to diversify energy sources, reduce import dependency and improve energy efficiency. Alenka Bratušek, outgoing Prime Minister of Slovenia, will be responsible for this priority area as Vice-President for Energy Union.
Above: Project Team for Energy Union
On the reshuffle, Juncker explained, “I want to reform and reorganise Europe’s energy policy into a new European Energy Union. We need to pool our resources, combine our infrastructures and unite our negotiating power vis-à-vis third countries. We need to diversify our energy sources, and reduce the high energy dependency of several of our Member States.”
The main actor in the Energy Union team will be Miguel Arias Cañete (former Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment) who takes on the newly combined role of Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. Environmental groups have expressed discomfort a the merging of climate change and energy portfolios, suggesting it is an attempt to avoid a repetition of clashes between DGs Climate Action and Energy in the Barrosso II Commission. Juncker, however, has explained that his motivation was to provide greater co-ordination between these mutually reinforcing areas.
Other changes in the Juncker Commission include:
- A ‘First Vice-President’ (Frans Timmermans, Netherlands), dedicated to ‘Better Regulation’, to guarantee that the Commission obeys the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;
- A new ‘Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs’ portfolio (Elžbieta Bie?kowska, Poland) – the first time that SMEs have received specific mention in a portfolio title;
- A combined portfolio for the ‘Environment and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries’ (Karmenu Vella, Malta), to “reflect the twin logic of ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’ growth”.
The new distribution of portfolios does not affect the organisation of Directorates General. For example, the Directorates General for Climate Action and Energy will remain as two distinct services, but will now report to only one Commissioner.
The new Commission must now be confirmed by the European Parliament, with a vote scheduled for October. If the vote is passed, the new Commission will take office on 1 November.