Who’s Who in the New EU Commission: The Names You Need to Know
After weeks of anticipation, incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen finally unveiled her new team. Made up of one commissioner from each of the EU’s 27 members (except the U.K.), the new college, as it’s called, reflects von der Leyen’s policy priorities for the next five years, with climate and technology having prominent roles.
Here are the people in the key posts:
Job: Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal
Timmermans, a Dutch national, was already first-vice president of the commission under Jean-Claude Juncker. Before his move to Brussels, Timmermans was foreign minister in the Netherlands. The 58-year-old polyglot was the European Socialists’ candidate to lead the commission and from his new post he’ll oversee EU efforts to tackle climate change, a priority for von der Leyen and the bloc’s leaders.
Job: Executive Vice President for the Digital Age, also in charge of competition
Vestager, 51, was one of the stars of the last commission, grabbing headlines and attracting Trump tweets with billion-dollar fines for big tech and a tough clampdown on tax deals. The former Danish finance minister gets to keep oversight of attention-grabbing investigations into Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc., while broadening her role to include efforts to stimulate Europe’s sluggish digital economy.
Job: Executive Vice President for Economy, also in charge of financial services
Valdis Dombrovkis, 48, is another vice president in the outgoing commission where he took charge of the euro and financial services, a position from which he has overseen the EU’s contingency planning for the financial sector to mitigate risks of a hard Brexit. A former finance minister and prime minister of Latvia, Dombrovskis led the Baltic nation during its economic crisis when it slashed spending and raised taxes as part of a bailout led by the IMF and EU. From his new post, Dombrovskis will continue to oversee the EU’s work on economic affairs and financial services
Job: Economy Commissioner
A soft-spoken figure, Gentiloni, 64, was born in Rome to an aristocratic family. He served as communications minister then foreign minister before holding the premiership from December 2016 to June 2018. Gentiloni had been tipped as a possible foreign minister in Giuseppe Conte’s new government, but headed to Brussels instead. His appointment in charge of the EU’s economic affairs could be seen as controversial given Italy longstanding tussle with Brussels over its failure to bring its budget plans in line with EU rules. It will also likely reignite speculation that the commission will seek to overhaul a fiscal rulebook that countries like Italy have accused of being too rigid.
Job: Trade Commissioner
Known as ‘Big Phil’ in Ireland, Hogan was appointed European Commissioner for Agriculture in 2014 — considered a plum role for any Irish commissioner. In that role, he has been a trenchant critic of the U.K.’s approach to Brexit, last month calling on Boris Johnson to “get real” and stop gambling with Ireland’s peace process. Back home, he has faced criticism for his role in negotiating the Mercosur trade deal, which Irish farmers say risks a surge in substandard imports from South America. His appointment as trade chief puts the bloc’s relationship with the U.K. right at the heart of policy making and is a clear signal von der Leyen considers forging relations with its departing member a priority.
Job: Internal Market Commissioner, also responsible for defense and space
The 54-year-old deputy governor of the Bank of France knows Brussels well, having been an adviser to Commission President Romano Prodi in the early 2000s and then holding a seat at the European parliament from 2009 to 2017. Goulard became defense minister in Paris after President Emmanuel Macron’s May 2017 election victory, but she resigned after just a month because of allegations of fake parliamentary jobs at her old party. She was named to the Bank of France in January 2018 after it became clear she was only tangentially implicated in the probe. From her post as Industry Commissioner, Goulard will lead the EU’s work on industrial policy, an area of renewed interest over the past year as big EU countries seek to protect and boost the bloc’s companies. She will also lead work on the EU Digital Single Market as well as on Defense and Space.
Job: EU High Representative/Vice President for Foreign Affairs
A Socialist veteran who served as a minister under Felipe Gonzalez in the 1990s, Borrell was president of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2007. He returned to frontline politics last year as foreign minister when the Socialists snatched power in Spain. The 72-year-old is a no-nonsense operator who’s not afraid to speak his mind — he dismissed U.S. attempts to force out President Nicolas Maduro earlier this year, saying the White House had misjudged the situation in Venezuela. From his new post, he’ll serve as the EU’s foreign policy chief, leading the bloc’s discussions and seeking to reach a common stance on a range of diplomatic issues.
— With assistance by Ben Sills, Ellen Proper, Aoife White, Aaron Eglitis, John Follain, Dara Doyle, and Gregory Viscusi