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Ursula von der Leyen unveils new European Commission

The president-elect of the next European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has named the members of her commission.

The new commission will function with three executive vice presidents. The Dane Margrethe Vestager will continue as commissioner for competition and a Europe fit for the digital age, while her Latvian colleague, Valdis Dombrovskis, was given the financial services portfolio. The third executive vice president, Frans Timmermans, responsible for justice and the rule of law in the current commission, a position which often placed him in conflict with the governments of Hungary, Poland and Romania, will manage the EU’s climate action policy and the so-called European Green Deal.

Among the five ordinary vice presidents are Slovakia’s Maroš Šefčovič, who was named to coordinate inter-institutional relations and foresight, Croatian commissioner-designate Dubravka Šuica at democracy and demography, and current Czech commissioner Věra Jourová, who will be responsible for values and transparency and will help coordinate EU action against countries which defy the rule of law.

In a surprising move, Mrs von der Leyen approved the candidacy of former Hungarian justice minister László Trócsányi, who is believed to be one of the chief architects of Hungary’s illiberal state, for the highly prestigious neighbourhood and enlargement portfolio.

Janusz Wojciechowski was named as Poland’s future EU commissioner with the agriculture brief, after Krzysztof Szczerski, the chief of staff of Polish president Andrzej Duda, withdrew his candidacy citing lack of experience in the field.

The energy portfolio was given to Estonia’s Kadri Simson while Lithuanian commissioner-designate Virginijus Sinkevičius was handed environmental and ocean protection, with Slovenia’s Janez Lenarčič set to be responsible for crisis management.

The candidates of Bulgaria and Romania (Mariya Gabriel and Rovana Plumb) have been proposed as the commissioners for innovation and youth, and transport respectively.

The next step towards the confirmation of the commissioners will be hearings at the European Parliament. The Romanian and Hungarian candidates are the most likely to face tough grillings, both being implicated in alleged corruption and the breach of rule of law.

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