Just confirmed by the European Parliament, the German Ursula von der Leyen is working on the composition of her new commission, a "delicate" exercise because she has to deal with the demands of political parties to get their inauguration in October.
She will head a team of 26 members - and not 27 - because of the October 31st divorce with the UK, but she was still short of six candidates before the break on August 15 to start assigning portfolios.
France, Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Portugal and Romania have until 26 August, the deadline imposed by the European Council, to appoint their representatives.
"The unknown will be Italy," said the entourage of the president. Ursula von der Leyen traveled to Rome in early August, but the end of the five-star government coalition decided by League boss Matteo Salvini, vice-president of the Council, complicates the appointment of the new Italian commissioner.
Mrs von der Leyen needs to know the names and qualifications of all the candidates for the allocation of the portfolios. The Parliament will then hear them in September and the process will end with the vote of inauguration of the new Brussels executive on 22 October, during the plenary session in Strasbourg.
Twelve men and eight women have already been appointed, according to a count of AFP on the basis of official announcements.
Seven are members of the European People's Party (EPP-right) as Mrs von der Leyen: Johannes Hahn (Austria - outgoing), Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria - outgoing), Stella Kyriakidou (Cyprus - new), Margaritis Schinas (Greece - new), Laszlo Trocsanyi (Hungary, new), Phil Hogan (outgoing Ireland), Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia - outgoing).
Seven are members of the social democratic parties: Jutta Urpilainen (Finland - new), Nicolas Schmit (Luxembourg - new), Helena Dalli (Malta - new), Frans Timmermans (Netherlands, outgoing), Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia - outgoing) , Josep Borrell (Spain - new), Ylva Johansson (Sweden new).
Three are members of the liberal family: Vera Jourova (Czech Republic - outgoing), Margrethe Vestager (Denmark - outgoing), Kadri Simson (Estonia - new).
The Lithuanian candidate Virginijus Sinkevicius is related to the Greens, the Slovenian Janez Lenarcic is independent and the Polish Krzysztof Szczerski is a member of the PiS, a component of the Eurosceptic Right in the European Parliament.
"The nominated candidates will not necessarily be the new commissioners," AFP reminded the entourage of the new president who will succeed Jean-Claude Juncker on 1 November.
Ursula von der Leyen may ask governments to appoint another person before the hearings, and the European Parliament may postpone certain candidates after their hearing.
Jean-Claude Juncker recently admitted to having refused six candidates during the constitution of his commission, and Parliament then forced him to reshuffle his team in 2014 to grant him the nomination.
- Five more women -
Mrs von der Leyen pledged herself to the European Parliament to submit a gender-equal committee to her. It could succeed with the last six designations, if five governments nominate women.
France should make such a choice. The candidate should have a political profile with corporate leadership experience, such as ministers Florence Parly, Emmanuelle Wargon or Brune Poirson, whose names circulate in Brussels.
The constitution of the new commission is an exercise "complex and politically delicate", because the States have great ambitions and many claim economic portfolios, the most prestigious, underlines one of the collaborators of the presidency.
Selected by the European Council, Mrs von der Leyen was confirmed in July with a very narrow majority in the European Parliament, a sign of distrust that she must take into account in order to win the nomination of her team.
His room for maneuver is limited, as heads of state and government have already imposed him two vice-presidents, the Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans and the liberal Margrethe Vestager, two figures of the outgoing commission, and demanded that important responsibilities are entrusted to them after having recalibrated them during the presidential race.
© 2019 AFP