Czech coalition nominates Regional Funds minister for Commissioner

  

After tough negotiations, the Czech coalition agreed to nominate Regional Development Minister Věra Jourová for EU Commissioner, apparently taking into account the request by elected Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that more women should be included in the next EU executive. EurActiv Czech Republic reports.

By fulfilling Juncker’s request, Prague hopes to gain an advantage in the negotiations for obtaining important portfolios. Věra Jourová, a liberal from the ANO party, is not only an expert onEuropean funds and regional politics, but also one of the most popular politicians in the Czech Republic.  

“Due to her considerable expertise, Ms Jourová is the most suitable candidate for the job,“ Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the members of the committee on European affairs.

Reportedly, the Czech government would like to see Ms Jourová taking over the regional policy, transport, industry or administration portfolios, or possibly, digital agenda.

“My personal preference is the regional policy portfolio“, she told reporters. Nevertheless she said she was prepared to accept other portfolios as well.   

While Jourová has been praised as trustworthy nominee, she still needs to persuade the European Parliament of her qualifications. In terms of her views of Europe, she notes: “I remember the time before the Czech Republic joined the EU. Based on this personal experience, I consider this acceptance within a club of European states to be a major victory and great opportunity.“

Jourová was appointed minister for regional development in January 2014. Prior to that, in 2003 she switched her posts from heading the regional development department of Vysocina Regional Authority, to serving as the deputy regional development minister. Her term at the ministry ended somewhat unfortunately with corruption charges. She spent a month in police detention before the case against her was dismissed. 

‘Correcting false myths’

Asked about her plans as future Commissioner, Jourová  said that alongside raising awareness of the public opinion in her country about the latest developments in Brussels, she would also like to correct false myths about the EU in the Czech Republic.

“Our public is often disillusioned with misinformation. I would like to pull the political weight this post entails to bridge the gap toward a more informed Czech citizenry,“ she told reporters.

Jourová’s nomination has not been a straightforward process and four other names have circulated until recently.

>> Read: Czech government debates new commissioner

In the meantime, the Social Democrats (ČSSD) have given up the nomination of former finance minister Pavel Mertlik for EU commissioner. In addition, former MEP and junior government Christian Democract (KDU-ČSL) deputy chairwoman Zuzana Roithová has rejected her party´s offer and proposed for the post an experienced Brussels official, Petr Blížkovský, who has been working at the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU.

Jourova´s nomination will become officially effective following at a special government meeting which will take place tonight.

Positions: 

The leader of the liberal ALDE group Guy Verhofstadt welcomed the news from Prague that the Government has finally settled on the name of Věra Jourová Vera Jourova as the country's candidate for European Commissioner.

" Věra Jourová has the full trust of the ALDE Group and I am certain she will quickly justify her nomination during the parliamentary hearings in September. I am delighted that the Government of the Czech Republic has nominated a woman and someone from ANO who will be a credit to the future Commission and to her country," he stated. 

Timeline: 
  • July-August: Member states designate their candidates for commissioners;
  • EP Plenary session: vote of consent by the European Parliament on the new Commission as a whole - President and members including the High Representative;
  • 23-24 October: European Council;
  • 1 November: New Commission expected to take office;
  • 1 December: New President of the European Council takes office
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