Seven of the present EU Commissioners stood for European elections and all were elected. Commission President José Manuel Barroso announced today (1 July) that four of them will take their MEP seats, and informed of the temporary re-allocation of their portfolios, pending decisions of their replacements.
As the newly elected European Parliament held its first session today, Barroso announced that four Commissioners had resigned in order to take up theirs MEP seats:
- Vice President Viviane Reding, responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship;
- Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship;
- Vice President Olli Rehn, responsible for economic and monetary affairs and the euro;
- Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, responsible for financial programming and the budget;
All seven Commissioners who took part in the European elections were elected as MEPs.
Vice-President Viviane Reding, the Luxembourg commissioner for Justice and Fundamental rights got the most successful vote in decades for her Christian Social People’s Party (EPP-affiliated): 63% of the votes in Luxembourg were cast for her with Reding's party winning in all 108 electoral districts of the country;
Vice-President Antonio Tajani, the Italian commissioner for Industry, was elected on the list of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party, EPP-affiliated;
Vice President Maroš Šefčovič, the Slovak commissioner responsible for Administration, was elected for the party SMER-Social Democracy, PES-affilated.;
Vice-President Olli Rehn, the Finnish commissioner responsible for economic and monetary affairs and the euro, has been elected by his liberal-affiliated Centre party.
Polish Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, responsible for the budget, was elected MEP from the list of the Civic Platform of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, EPP-affiliated.
Croatian commissioner Neven Mimica, responsible for consumer protection, was elected MEP from the Social Democratic Party, PES-affiliated.
The most interesting case is that of Belgium’s Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht. He was last on the list of the liberal Open-VLD party of Guy Verhofstadt, without the intention of being elected. But due to the preferential system and to his popularity, he was promoted to number three, and was elected too.
Out of the three Commissioners who will not take up their MEP seats, Šefčovič and Mimica are expected to be nominated by their governments for a new term in the next EU executive.
The future of Karel De Gucht in the next EU executive is less certain, as Belgium is still struggling to form a new cabinet. The European elections in Belgium coincided with the regular parliamentary elections.
De Gucht has faced a trial on a case concerning the conditions in which the Belgian EU commissioner purchased a holiday home in Tuscany in 2005.
But last December De Gucht won his case, when a judge ruled that investigators did not have sufficient evidence to look into his accounts.
At least one of the new Commissioners who will replace those who took their MEP seats is known. Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen formally stepped down from office on 16 June and is expected to take the post of European Commissioner freed up by his compatriot, Olli Rehn. Katainen is expected to stay on as Commissioner in the next EU executive.
Barroso has the right to reshuffle portfolios and the replacement commissioners are not necessarily inheriting the portfolios of their compatriots that became MEPs.
It is assumed that the replacement commissioners would stay on in the next EU executive, but then again, there is no guarantee for that. Jean-Claude Juncker, who is expected to be confirmed as Commission President on 16 July, will send letters to the heads of state and government of the remaining 27 EU countries and invite them to send proposals for national Commissioners later this month.
In the meantime, Italy announced that its replacement commissioner will be Fernando Nelli Feroci, a career diplomat who was the country Permanent Representative to the EU until last year.