Juncker shakes up the Commission

Strategic Communications

September 11, 2014

Yesterday, the next European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, unveiled his new team, presenting the 27 other appointed Commissioners and their portfolios. Altogether Juncker presented a very strong line-up, with many new faces (only seven are returning Commissioners), of which many are former Prime-Ministers and experienced Ministers; and he appointed nine female Commissioners, making good on his promise to give them important portfolios.

The most striking feature is the new structure: there are seven Vice-Presidents, mainly from the centre-right, each leading a project team of Commissioners and coordinating the work of those whose portfolios are associated.

This structural overhaul, Juncker’s awarding of the most influential positions to strong candidates from small countries, and the alignment of the portfolios with his priorities all show that Juncker is seriously attempting to address the Commission’s unwieldy nature and the rise of Euroscepticism. It remains to be seen whether this structure will work as Juncker envisages.

The Parliament still has to give its approval to the Commission nominees: its Committee confirmation hearings will start in the week of 29 September, and it can be expected that the MEPs will give some of them a very hard time. Here we take a closer look into the new Commission and its structure and analyse some of the highlights.

The New Structure
The new structure under the Vice-Presidents is undoubtedly a bold and clever move. It has enabled Juncker to deal with the problem of having too many Commissioners without creating superfluous portfolios, it highlights his policy priorities and it creates new flexibility to balance the power between large and small Member States. Strikingly five of the Vice-Presidents come from small Member States in particular from the North and East of the EU, while Juncker resisted the pressure from Angela Merkel to give a key portfolio to the German Commissioner Günther Oettinger, another clever political move.

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