Brussels (AFP)

Germany's Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to lead the European Commission, unveils Tuesday the portfolios of the 26-member team, a delicate exercise that must respect the geographical and political balances in the EU.

Monday, this close to Chancellor Angela Merkel has already almost succeeded in fulfilling one of his promises, a European executive with as many women as men: it has respectively 13 and 14, a first in the history of this institution.

- Negotiations to the end -

It remained to divide the various competences between the 26 candidates, representing each one of the countries of the Union (the United Kingdom except since it wants to leave the EU at the end of October).

A complex task, which has led to negotiations until the last moment, at a time when Europe faces several challenges: climate change, migration crisis, trade tensions caused by the unpredictable Donald Trump and Brexit.

To support Mrs von der Leyen, who will take up her new post on 1 November for five years, two particularly powerful vice-presidents, who are already members of the Commission of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker.

The Dutch Social Democrat, Frans Timmermans, is expected to recover the climate portfolio, while Denmark's liberal Margrethe Vestager, Silicon Valley's pet peeve, is expected to win the Digital, according to several sources.

These two heavyweights, who were themselves candidates for the succession of Mr Juncker and therefore rivals of Mrs von der Leyen, will be in charge of priority files, within a Commission very balanced politically between right and left .

In total, the von der Leyen team will have eight Team Juncker alumni. An unwritten rule is that a former Commissioner can not perform exactly the same functions as before.

Among them, the Irishman Phil Hogan (EPP, right like Mrs von der Leyen), currently in Agriculture, is expected to inherit Trade, a coveted position, while Austrian Johannes Hahn, EPP also, would have the budget of the EU after dealing with enlargement.

In the group of newcomers, the French liberal, Sylvie Goulard, former MEP and Deputy Governor of the Bank of France, should obtain that of the Internal Market which is the free movement of goods and people.

The moderate Social Democrat Italian, Paolo Gentiloni, former prime minister, could, according to one source, have the Economics and Finance portfolio, at a time when Rome, which has to relaunch a country at a standstill, hopes for more flexibility. Brussels on its public finances. Another source, however, foresaw it in competition, a highly sought-after position.

- Grinding of teeth -

The only certainty in this great bargain, where European capitals have tried to place their pawns: Foreign Affairs will return to the Spanish Socialist Josep Borrell. His appointment was decided by the European heads of state and government at the same time as that of Mrs von der Leyen.

After the presentation of the new team on Tuesday, all its members will be auditioned by the European Parliament between 30 September and 8 October. In the past, pretenders put on the grill by MEPs have been ruled out.

However, in the new Commission, some designations have caused grinding of teeth.

Thus, Mrs Goulard still has trouble with the justice in the context of the case of the fictitious jobs of the assistants of the MEPs of the French centrist party MoDem.

If its file is closed at the level of the administrative services of the European Parliament, the French justice, as well as the European Anti-Fraud Office (Olaf), an independent body, continue to investigate.

Olaf also examines the case of the designated Pole, Janusz Wojciechowski, for "alleged irregularities regarding reimbursement of travel expenses" when he was a MEP.

As for the Romanian named Rovana Plumb, she was accused of having drafted a government decision in favor of a company close to the former strongman of the left of his country, Liviu Dragnea, incarcerated since May.

After the hearings, the new Brussels executive has yet to pass the nomination vote on 22 October, during the plenary session in Strasbourg.

© 2019 AFP