Juncker’s new Commission has been well received. Italy is happy to see the independent-minded Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva was named Vice President and Commissioner Budget and Human Resources. There is a bit of concern over Finland's former Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, who can be firmly placed within the austerity camp, being nominated Vice President and the Commissioner in charge of jobs, growth investment and competitiveness.
But most media attention is centred on another Vice President, Federica Mogherini, the 41-year-old Italian minister of Foreign Affairs, who was appointed High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and will lead the EU’s foreign policy for the next five years. In Juncker’s new cluster model she will also supervise and guide the work of four other commissioners: the Directorates-General of Development, Humanitarian Aid,
Throughout the European reform debate of the past decade, there has been a mainstream political consensus in Germany in favour of the European Commission assuming the role of government in the European Union’s political system. This accounts for Germany’s willingness to give up its second commissioner as a consequence of enlargement. It also influenced Germany to lend some support to the French initiative, launched in the European Convention phase of reform, of significantly reducing the number of commissioners. Berlin did not give it its full backing to the idea because of the explicit concerns of smaller member states. Rather, the German government made it known that Berlin could live with seeing no German commissioner serving in Brussels.
Berlin supported the Lisbon Treaty’s compromise on the number of commissioners, as well as the decision not to apply its provisions in light
Kristalina Georgieva from Bulgaria will be one of the six vice-presidents in Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Commission. She will have responsibility for the European Union’s budget and its institutions’ human resources. Together with Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans who has received the portfolio for Better Regulation, Georgieva will act as the main agent of cohesion and accountability of the commission, which under Juncker’s new structure is more decentralised.
With quite a few former prime ministers and other high-profile politicians on board, Juncker’s team risks lacking a single focus and direction. Georgieva has won the post of Junker’s left, if not right, hand because of her efficiency and experience in large multinational institutions – she was previously vice-president at the World Bank. She was also helped by her independence from the agendas of the larger member
The Lisbon Treaty aimed to improve the coherence of Europe’s foreign policy by giving one person two jobs – High Representative of the member states and external affairs commissioner. Catherine Ashton survived by largely ignoring the second aspect. Now, Jean-Claude Juncker has struck back.
His Mission Letter to Ashton’s successor, Federica Mogherini, in her capacity of Vice-President of the European Commission, is fascinating: part seduction, part abduction. On the one hand, under Juncker’s new “cluster management” approach, Mogherini is empowered to “guide the work” of the aid, development, enlargement/neighbourhood, and trade commissioners.
Trade? Subject the commission’s most powerful fiefdom to the “guidance” of the foreign policy vice-president? If this can be made to stick in practice, then Juncker has substantially strengthened the hand of the European Union’s foreign
I admit it: I was one of those who thought Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was overconfident when he insisted on putting Federica Mogherini forward for the post of High Representative.
In July, 11 member states from Eastern Europe blocked the Italian foreign minister’s bid, arguing that she was too close to Russia. Many of us thought that that was the end of Mogherini’s hopes. Renzi had been too precipitous in proposing her – or rather, demanding her – and he exposed the young Italian minister to sharp criticism. People said she was too young, too inexperienced, too little known, and lacked the leadership required to deal with the immense challenges of today’s world.
But, as I argued after the European elections, Renzi had a card to play: he received 41 percent of the vote in the European Parliament elections in Italy. While we all know that Renzi is a skilful player, many
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