Former CommissionsBack to business and to good old (coz it doesnt look like very innovative) EU politics. People keep on asking me who the new Commissioners will be and I should share my (non existing) insight here.

Besides the ongoing struggles of Barroso to get himself appointed, I assume Socialists and Liberals will eventually bow in and re-elect him as President already in September to send a signal to Ireland. This means that the Portugese portfolio is sorted. How does it look for other countries? I would divide up the table in three different groups: quasi-safe nominations, likely nominations and unpredictable races.

The already appointed

Belgium: Karel de Gucht, Flemish Liberal (ELDR), the Louis Michel replacement was nominated to stay, has 5-year experience as Belgian foreign minister
Portugal: Barroso (even though the government is leftist… but they remain happy to keep him away from Portugal so that the division in the conservative party continues), EPP

Likely nominiations

Estonia: Siim Kallas, Reform Party (ELDR), did a good, likes to continue and is apparently likely to be re-nominated
Finland: Olli Rehn, Center Party (ELDR) will continue; after doing a great job in the enlargement portfolio he hopes to become EU foreign minister and he might have chances, his re-appointment was part of the coalition agreement
France: Michel Barner, UMP (EPP), the former Commissioner and recent agricultural minister led the UMP list to the EP elections. He is the official candidate of the Sarkozy government but it could still happen that Christine Lagarde will become Commissioner if the French secure a key economic portfolio like competition policy (you would have to be a mad Commission president to do that…)
Ireland: Pat Cox, ELDR, if the Lisbon Treaty goes through in the referendum, for which he heads the yes campaign
Italy: Antonio Tajani, Berlusconi Party (EPP), current transport Commissioner seems to continue because Frattini is needed in Italy. However, there have been recent rumours that Frattini might become EU foreign minister. Also, there is the option that Mario Mauro will become Commissioner for not having been elected EP president
Lithuania: Algirdas Šemeta, has only just replaced Budget Commissioner Grybauskaite and was first tipped as a temporary solution but is now likely to stay. Given this economics background I would not even be surprised if he kept the portfolio
Luxemburg: Viviane Reding, EPP, was elected as MEP but did not take her mandate, would apparently like to continue and might achieve a high-profile portfolio
Poland: Janusz Lewandowski, PO (EPP), former chair of EP budget committee and apparent nominate of the Tusk government with declared interest in a key industrial/economic portfolio
Slovenia: Janez Poto?nik, not really party-affiliated, there is agreement in the Slovene government to re-appoint him and hope for a more exciting portfolio
Spain: Joaquin Almunia, PES – more than likely to continue, going for a big portfolio again as second-term Commissioner from an almost big member state, solid record and possibly highest ranking Social Democrat in the new Commission
Sweden: Carl Bildt, Moderaterna (EPP), Sweden’s foreign minister, former prime minister; he would obviously like to take the complete foreign relations portfolio (EU foreign minister) as created by the Lisbon Treaty but probably will not get it (my bet is on Olli Rehn)
United Kingdom: Shriti (Baroness) Vadera, Labour (PSE), Catherine Asthon will be surely replaced by “Shitty” Vadera as she is also called. Unfortunately, the high-fly names of Lord Patten and Tony Blair ring well in the ears, but Jon has more why they will not make it – and Brown prefers to have someone low-profile

Germany: it really depends on the outcome of the national elections. Should the CDU lead the government, it is more than likely that they will also nominate the next Commissioner. This will probably be current Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Should the Social Democrats be able to join the Commissioner this is supposed to be Martin Schulz, PES leader in the EP.

Unpredictable races or simply do not know

maybe I should have put Germany here?

Austria: very interesting case… Ferrero-Waldner thought her time is over and attempted to get a UNESCO job (I don’t know if that story is already over). The Social Democrats apparently think that they should get the Commissioner but also the Conservatives are still in the game. I hear former Chancelor Alfred Gusenbauer (PES) has best chances for the left, and Ursula Plassnik and Wolfang Schüssel on the right (EPP).
Bulgaria
: hast just elected the populist GERB (EPP) party to government and will most likely see a nomination from their environment but Meglena Kuneva is surely not the chosen one
Cyprus
: no idea but have also not heard why Androulla Vassiliou would not continue
Czech Republic
: no government and no elections in time to be a dedicated player in the game. It might be that Spidla continues until a new government has formed but you can be sure that he is out right after.
Denmark
: Fischer Boel did a decent job (but is approaching retirement age – not that this has ever stopped any politician). Word is that she has been offered Commission Vice-President. But domestic DK politics might have a word here as well and a cabinet re-shuffle is soon expected. Eva Kjer Hansen (agriculture minister) is domestic front-runner for Commissioner whereas Bertel Haarder (minister for education) is also very keen. What is sure is that the next Commissioner will be from Venstre (ELDR) again
Greece
: Stavros Dimas is rumoured not to continue (even though interested) and the New Democracy party (EPP) will definitely nominate one of their own
Hungary
: no idea… the Socialist government is in a mess and the “conservatives” will take over as soon as they get to have national elections. Until then maybe Laszlo Kovac could even continue?
Latvia
: no idea as that state might be well bankrupt by then… it might well be that Andris Piebalgs may continue
Malta: to be honest I do now know – except for that I assume that the National Party (EPP) will again nominate. And why not re-appoint Joe Borg?
Netherlands: not really clear as to which party will propose – Labour or Christian Democrats (CDA). Frans Timmermans, Dutch Labour Party (PES), current minister for Europe with strong EU and international experience has good chances to succeed Neelie Kroes as her party is not in government anymore and she has approached retirement age. At the same time she earned herself a very good name in recent competition policy work. If things move towards CDA one option is Prime Minister Balkenende who might end up as the lucky one, should Barroso not be able to attract support by October, or even as EU Council president (and then probably the Commissioner for Labour)
Romania: no idea as government is also a bit unpredictable. But if they do not send a more known – and respected (!) person, they might be “orbanised” again
Slovakia: I don’t know… Jan Figel (EPP) did an OK job but I am not sure if the populist government will replace him

Portfolios

This is the most difficult thing to say. First of all, much depends on whether the Lisbon Treaty is accepted in Ireland – but then again, you don’t know what is still coming up in countries like the Czech Republic… Moreover, the new Commission President needs to assign the portfolios and he needs to be put in place first. I would not bet anything here except that the both the four big member states and second-term Commissioners who did a good job (Reding, Kallas, Almunia etc) are likely to attract the interesting portfolios.

I will try to keep this list updated in coming weeks as events and rumours unfold. You might also like to have a look at EurActiv’s overview.

[first updates on Netherlands and Denmark on 2009-8-31]


Comments

5 Comments so far

  1. Brusselsblogger on August 31, 2009 7:38

    Currently Austria’s most likely candidate for Commissioner is Wilhelm Molterer. However, Othmas Karas (MEP of the same party, ÖVP), wants a national hearing the Austrian parliament (which all others from the ÖVP oppose) and has yesterday brought up Christoph Leitl, president of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce as possible candidate (but only if there would be a Commission portfolio for SMEs)

  2. Brusselsblogger on August 31, 2009 7:39

    BTW: does anyone know if national hearings of EU Commissioners are usual practice in other member states?

  3. yo yo on September 22, 2009 14:14

    I wonder why you don’t consider Swedish Minister Gunilla Carson as Commissioner for Development? and etc
    The new Commission is an interesting topic now – we shoudl follow quite closely

  4. Éva on November 17, 2009 9:55

    Excuse me, is it really that hard to copy and paste the names of (would-be) Commissioners? It is László KovácS, with an “s” at the end. Plus, you did bother with the special characters for LT and SI, you could do the same for HU and SK… Getting someone’s name right shows a minimum of respect towards the person and the country he represents.
    Thank you.

  5. Peer Steinbrück – The new German EU Commissioner? | Kosmopolito on May 9, 2010 10:59

    […] Just a quick post about the German discussion about the new EU Commissioner. (and a part of our concerted blog campaign). btw: Jan wrote a very useful overview of the state of play in all EU member states. […]

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