Selection of Ursula von der Leyen’s College of Commissioners

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Publication Date 2019
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Feature bringing together reports and analyses on the selection of the individuals set to join the College of Commissioners led by Ursula von der Leyen (2019-2024).

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Following the confirmation vote at the European Parliament on 16 July 2019, which secured Ursula von der Leyen as President of the European Commission, the different Member States engaged in selecting the person they intended to appoint as their nominee for one of European Commission's portfolios. Ahead of this nomination, Ms von der Leyen requested that two names were put forward by the countries - one man and one woman - in an attempt to reach gender equality in the prospective European Commission.

Frans Timmermans (the Netherlands) and Margrethe Vestager (Denmark) had already been secured vice-presidencies in the new composition as part of the agreeement that allowed the European Council to reach an overall agreement on top jobs. Member States progressively announced their nominees - in agreement with Ms von der Leyen - throughout the summer. The same went for Josep Borrell (Spain), who secured the post as High-Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. The United Kingdom indicated on 23 August it would not officially indicate any name for the new European Commission due to its withdrawal of the European Union.

The draft list of new Commissioners was put forward on 9 September and formally adopted by the Council of the European Union on the following day. The distribution of portfolios was unveiled by Ms von der Leyen also on 10 September, as follows:

Media sources reported on criticism around the name given to the portfolio taken up by Mr Schinas, given that this Commissioner would also be in charge of matters relating to migration. On 26 September, the European Parliament's legal affairs committee announced they would not be able to accept Mr Trócsányi (Hungary) and Ms Plumb (Romania) as candidates for European Commissioners due to issues with their financial statements.

The European Parliament was required to give its consent to the entire College of Commissioners, following a series of hearings of the Commissioners-designate in the relevant parliamentary committees. The hearings at committee level started on 30 September. Sylvie Goulard (France) was rejected as a result of the hearings. The three countries with rejected candidates appointed new individuals for the portfolio, which were subject to hearings on 14 November and later endorsed by the respective committees. The Council of the European Union endorsed the College of Commissioners on 25 November, followed by the plenary session of the European Parliament on 27 November.

As the European Union accepted the United Kingdom's request to extend the Article 50 process until early 2020, Ms von der Leyen also indicated she would expect the country to appoint a candidate for the College of Commissioners. An official from the UK government indicated on 14 November they would not indicate a candidate due to an incoming election. As a result, the European Commission announced on the same day the launch of infringement proceedings against the the country following its failure to name a candidate for the College of Commissioners.

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Commentary and Analysis
EurActiv: Commissioners assemble: Class of 2019-2024
Politico: The next European Commission: What we know so far
EUObserver: This is the new European Commission, so far
UK Parliament: Commons Library: Insights, 25/07/2019: PM says UK will not nominate an EU Commissioner – how might the EU respond?
Euro|topics, August 2019: New EU Commission: no easy choices
Euro|topics, September 2019: What course will the new Commission take?
Politico, 09/09/2019: Meet the commissioners
Politico, 10/09/2019: The von der Leyen Commission: Lofty ambitions, odd job titles
Politico, 10/09/2019: How Team von der Leyen compares with Team Juncker
The Economist, 10/09/2019: The new European Commission marks a victory for France
Politico, 11/09/2019: There may be trouble ahead: New Commission’s Parliament test
Bloomberg, 11/09/2019: The New EU Is About Politics, Not Policy
EurActiv, 12/09/2019: Von der Leyen’s Commission: More presidentialist, more parliamentarian
Politico, 12/09/2019: The Brussels way of life: Infighting
Politico, 12/09/2019: Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission of Inquiries
EUObserver, 12/09/2019: Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission
Politico, 12/09/2019: New Commission bows to the populists
EPRS: At a Glance, September 2019: Overview of the parliamentary hearings
Politico, 26/09/2019: Ursula von der Leyen’s rejection headache
EurActiv, 01/10/2019: Unsuitable mandates, wrong candidates: A difficult start for von der Leyen
The Economist, 17/10/2019: Ursula von der Leyen’s bumpy start
Politico, 17/10/2019: Ursula von der Leyen struggles to stay in the saddle
Politico, 28/10/2019: FAQ: The UK’s role in the next European Commission
Euronews, 30/10/2019: Brexit delay: Will the UK be obliged to name a new EU Commissioner?
EurActiv, 06/11/2019: Africa offers a test to von der Leyen’s ‘geopolitical Commission’
Politico, 07/11/2019: Ursula von der Leyen seeks new balance
Euro|topics, November 2019: The bumpy path to a new EU Commission
EPRS: At a Glance, November 2019: Vote of investiture for the Commission
EPRS: Briefing, November 2019: Parliamentary hearings of the Commissioners-designate: An analysis of the portfolios of the von der Leyen Commission
EPRS: Briefing, November 2019: Commitments made at the hearings of the Commissioners-designate - von der Leyen Commission 2019-2024
EUObserver, 26/11/2019: 'Renew' will ensure von der Leyen's commission delivers
Deutsche Welle, 27/11/2019: Von der Leyen's ambitious plans come with a price tag
Euro|topics, November 2019: What challenges does the new Commission face?
Politico, 28/11/2019: Von der Leyen’s real 100-day challenge

Politico, 07/08/2019: Lithuania puts forward economy minister for European Commission
EurActiv, 26/08/2019: UK officially declines to name new EU Commissioner
Politico, 28/08/2019: Von der Leyen looks to overhaul Commission power structure
Reuters, 02/09/2019: EU appointments 'puzzle' hinges on Italy as key economic jobs up for grabs
EurActiv, 03/09/2019: Ignoring Poland, Italy’s farm sector vies for EU agriculture job
The Irish Times, 09/09/2019: Proposed European Commission team hits near-50/50 gender balance
BBC News, 10/09/2019: New EU Commission team enshrines gender equality
EUObserver, 10/09/2019: Von der Leyen leads gender-balanced, 'geopolitical' team
Deutsche Welle, 10/09/2019: EU member states accept Von der Leyen's gender-balanced list of commissioners
Balkan Insight, 10/09/2019: Three Balkan Women Nominated for European Commission Posts
EurActiv, 11/09/2019: A new team to defend Europe’s economic sovereignty, 11/09/2019: Baltics should be satisfied with Leyen's proposed EC, says Rinkēvičs
Politico, 12/09/2019: New Commission job titles ‘bizarre’: EU Parliament president
Politico, 12/09/2019: Juncker criticizes von der Leyen over ‘European way of life’ commissioner
Reuters, 12/09/2019: Hungary's Orban hopeful on ties with new EU Commission after migration disputes
Politico, 16/09/2019: Von der Leyen on ‘European way of life’: We can’t let others ‘take away our language’
EurActiv, 16/09/2019: Le Pen hails EU ‘way of life’ job as victory on path to Élysée
The Guardian, 26/09/2019: MEPs reject two EU commissioner candidates
Hungary Today, 26/09/2019: MEPs Reject Hungarian EC-candidate Trócsányi over ‘Conflict of Interest’
Politico, 29/09/2019: Bucharest and Budapest double down on their commissioner candidates
EurActiv, 30/09/2019: EU ready to act alone on digital tax if no global deal in 2020
Politico, 30/09/2019: Von der Leyen seeks new recruits after Parliament torpedoes two
France24, 30/09/2019: MEPs disqualify two candidates for new EU Commission
EUObserver, 30/09/2019: MEPs again reject Romanian, Hungarian 'commissioners'
Reuters, 30/09/2019: EU's von der Leyen in dilemma as lawmakers bloc Hungarian, Romanian members of her team
EurActiv, 30/09/2019: Legal Affairs committee confirms Trócsányi and Plumb rejection, hearings suspended
Politico, 30/09/2019: Von der Leyen asks Hungary and Romania for new Commission nominees
The Guardian, 03/10/2019: New EU commission president to live, work and sleep at the office
Deutsche Welle, 03/10/2019: Ursula von der Leyen to live in Brussels office
Politico, 03/10/2019: Von der Leyen’s plan to sleep on the job
Deutsche Welle, 16/10/2019: EU pushes back start of von der Leyen's term as Commission chief
EUObserver, 16/10/2019: EU leaders to warn von der Leyen over 'giving in' to MEPs
Politico, 29/10/2019: Von der Leyen nominates French and Hungarian commissioners
Euronews, 29/10/2019: Von der Leyen approves nominations of Thierry Breton, Oliver Varhelyi as EU Commissioners
Deutsche Welle, 06/11/2019: Von der Leyen urges UK to nominate EU commissioner
The Guardian 11/11/2019: Boris Johnson set to break pledge not to nominate EU commissioner
EurActiv, 12/11/2019: UK set to backtrack and pick an EU Commissioner
Politico, 13/11/2019: Von der Leyen to change some Commission titles, social democrats claim win
Deutsche Welle, 14/11/2019: Brexit: UK will not nominate an EU commissioner
Reuters, 14/11/2019: EU executive faces risk of new delay as Britain will not name commissioner
Politico, 14/11/2019: UK won’t nominate EU commissioner before election, ambassador tells Brussels
EurActiv, 25/11/2019: Member states green-light Commission without UK member
The Guardian, 27/11/2019: Von der Leyen pledges climate focus as MEPs back new commission
EurActiv, 27/11/2019: New EU chief flags climate policy as Europe’s ‘new growth strategy’
Deutsche Welle, 27/11/2019: European Commission: 'Team Ursula' gears up
Deutsche Welle, 27/11/2019: EU Commission chief von der Leyen stresses climate agenda
EurActiv, 27/11/2019: Parliament backs von der Leyen’s ‘fresh start for Europe’ Commission
RTÉ News, 27/11/2019: MEPs vote to approve new European Commission

UK Government: Press Release, 23/08/2019: The UK will not nominate a new Commissioner to the EU
European Parliament: Headlines, 26/08/2019: Holding the EU executive to account: hearings of commissioner-candidates
European Commission: Press Release, 09/09/2019: Formation of von der Leyen Commission advances
European Commission: Commissioners-designate
European Commission: Press Release, 10/09/2019: The von der Leyen Commission: for a Union that strives for more
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 10/09/2019: Council adopts list of candidates for appointment as Commissioner
European Parliament: European Commission Public Hearings 2019
European Parliament: Letters by President Sassoli to Commission President-elect von der Leyen on Legal Affairs Committee’s decision on two Commissioners-designate
European Commission: Statement by President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, 10 October 2019
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 25/11/2019: Council adopts new list of Commissioner candidates
European Commission: Speech by President-elect von der Leyen in the European Parliament Plenary on the occasion of the presentation of her College of Commissioners and their programme, 27 November 2019
European Parliament: Press Release, 27/11/2019: Parliament elects the von der Leyen Commission

ESO Records
Selection for European Union’s leading positions following 2019 European Parliament elections
Parliamentary hearings of the Commissioners-designate: A decisive step in the investiture process

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