New EU top team brings in most women ever

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Brussels, ¬†Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has named her choices for the EU’s new top team consisting of 13 women and 14 men, the media reported.

Those on her list face certain difficult challenges, including handling the UK’s exit from the 28-nation bloc and the fight against climate change.

Based in Brussels, the Commission is in charge of enforcing EU rules and the bloc’s treaties and it is the only EU body that can draft laws. Von der Leyen, Germany’s former Defence Minister, will officially replace Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on November 1.

If approved by the European Parliament, Von der Leyen’s executive team will be the most diverse in EU history, the BBC reported.

There is no UK nominee as Brexit is currently scheduled for October 31. The exit date is the day before the new Commission takes office. MEPs will hold confirmation hearings for each nominee, said the report.

The new executive team of 27 – one for each member state – is planned to be in place for five years.

Von der Leyen’s list features some new posts within the Commission. The key players in the list are former Irish government Minister Phil Hogan, a nominee for Trade Commissioner.

Currently the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hogan has criticised the UK government’s attitude during Brexit negotiations and what he called the “tough guy approach” of some “Brexiteers”.

He has described what he said was Britain’s “poor grasp” of the importance of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border issue as “disheartening”. He warned the UK that it faces “a huge gap between hope and experience” when it begins operating its own trade policy.

Margaritis Schinas, EU Commission spokesman and member of Greece’s centre-right opposition party New Democracy, is a nominee for Vice-President and Protecting Our European Way of Life. He has been outspoken about Brexit.

Schinas, 57, has pushed the UK to provide “clarification” on the rights of EU citizens living in Britain following the country’s exit from the union.

He has also said that in a no-deal scenario, it would be “pretty obvious” that there would be a hard border on the island of Ireland – meaning checks on people and goods. If approved for the role, Schinas will oversee migration, security, employment and education.

Frans Timmermans, currently First Vice-President of the Commission, is the nominee for Executive Vice-President for European Green Deal. The centre-left politician has already shown a preparedness to tackle the climate crisis, helping to steer through EU legislation banning plastic straws.

Margrethe Vestager — the nominee for Executive Vice-President, Europe Fit for the Digital Age — previously served as Denmark’s Economy and Interior Minister. She has spent the past five years as EU competition commissioner, spearheading EU anti-trust investigations that ended in big fines for Google and Apple.

Her nomination may cause technology firms to sit up and take note. She has already earned the wrath of US President Donald Trump: “Your tax lady, she really hates the US,” he is reported to have told her boss, Jean-Claude Juncker.