New Era

The new European Commission has been voted in ... here are the key players

The incoming European Commission will take office on 1 December.

european-parliament-session-in-france President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen alongside the new College of Commissioners Philipp von Ditfurth Philipp von Ditfurth

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has voted to approve the new European Commission.

In a roll call vote at midday today, MEPs approved the new College of Commissioners with 461 votes in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions. 

Female representation in the Commission will now be the highest it has ever been. In addition to President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, the new Commission comprises 11 women and 15 men. 

The incoming European Commission will take office on 1 December.

Here is a rundown of the key players in the EU’s powerful 27-strong executive as they begin their five-year terms, and the issues they will tackle.

Climate, farming, fish and energy

Dutchman Frans Timmermans, from the leftist S&D political family, will take charge of the “European Green Deal”, one of the new commission’s priorities as it seeks to boost the EU’s performance on climate change.

The polyglot 58-year-old, the number two in the commission behind von der Leyen, will be aided by Poland’s Janusz Wojciechowski, who takes the agriculture portfolio, Adina Valean of Romania, in charge of transport, and former Estonian economic minister Kadri Simson, who will be energy commissioner.

The 29-year-old Lithuanian Virginijus Sinkevicius will hold the environment, oceans and fisheries portfolio.

electoral-arena Frans Timmermans Malte Ossowski Malte Ossowski

Competition and digital

Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager keeps the Competition portfolio, where she has built a fearsome reputation over the past five years in her scraps with Silicon Valley giants.

Her powers are boosted with the addition of digital issues. She will function as “executive vice-president” alongside Timmermans and Valdis Dombrovskis.

She will work closely with Frenchman Thierry Breton (64) the former CEO of the Atos IT Group, who takes charge of the single market brief as well as industrial policy, defence spending and space.

Bulgaria’s Mariya Gabriel, the outgoing commissioner for the digital economy, where she distinguished herself in her work against online misinformation, will be responsible for innovation and youth.

web-summit-2019 Margrethe Vestager Filipe Amorim Filipe Amorim

Finance, jobs, economy and trade

Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president of the outgoing commission, where he was in charge of the euro, becomes the commissioner for financial services, charged with creating an “economy that works for people”.

In this endeavour he can count on the help of economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, Luxembourg’s employment commissioner Nicolas Schmit and Elisa Ferreira of Portugal, who takes charge of “cohesion and reforms”.

Perhaps the most crucial figure in Dombrovskis’s unit will be Ireland’s Phil Hogan, the outgoing agriculture commissioner, who takes over trade and will be the key man in negotiating the post-Brexit relationship with Britain.

eu-banking-reform Valdis Dombrovskis DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

Foreign affairs, development and EU enlargement

Spain’s veteran foreign minister Josep Borrell takes charge of EU diplomacy as high representative for foreign policy and vice-president, promising to prioritise relations with the bloc’s near neighbours to the east.

He will be assisted by the new neighbourhood and enlargement commissioner Oliver Varhelyi of Hungary, who will manage relations with prospective new EU member countries, and Finland’s Jutta Urpilainen, who takes international development, along with Slovenian Janez Lenarcic, the new civil protection and humanitarian relief commissioner.

file-eu-institutions-future-leadership Josep Borrell Xinhua News Agency / PA Images Xinhua News Agency / PA Images / PA Images

‘Way of life’, health, equality

Greek Margaritis Schinas’s “promoting our European way of life” brief covers migration, security and education.

The job title was changed from “protecting our European way of life” after complaints it smacked of far-right populism.

greece-deputy-dg-communication-of-eu-in-the-3rd-eu-arabi Margaritis Schinas Dimitrios Karvountzis Dimitrios Karvountzis

Stella Kyriakides of Cyprus takes the health portfolio, while Malta’s Helena Dalli gets equality and Swede Ylva Johansson will look after home affairs.

Justice, transparency

Czech Vera Jourova, the outgoing commissioner for justice, consumer rights and gender equality, will be responsible for “values and transparency”.

conference-on-hate-speech-and-freedom-of-expression Vera Jourova DPA / PA Images DPA / PA Images / PA Images

Former Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders will be justice commissioner.


Austrian Johannes Hahn, the outgoing neighbourhood and enlargement commissioner, takes the budget portfolio.

georgia-foreign-minister-visit-to-european-commission Johannes Hahn Wiktor Dabkowski / PA Images Wiktor Dabkowski / PA Images / PA Images

Maros Sefcovic from Slovakia will be in charge of inter-institutional relations, choreographing the delicate sarabande between the EU’s three competing power centres – the commission, the European Parliament and the European Council, which represents the member states.

Croatia’s Dubravka Suica, the former mayor of Dubrovnik, gets the “democracy and demography” portfolio.

- © AFP 2019 with reporting by Hayley Halpin

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