The two largest parties in the European Parliament have today (10 October) backed Socialist MEP Tanja Fajon to replace Alenka Bratušek as Slovenia’s Commissioner in the new Juncker Commission.
Bratušek was chosen by the Commission President-elect to be Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union. But she was forced to resign after MEPs overwhelmingly rejected her candidacy last night (8 October).
According to a tweet from the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, Fajon has already secured the backing of the Slovenian centre-left government.
In contrast, Bratušek never had the support of her country. The former prime minister, ostensibly a liberal, appointed herself as Slovenia’s next Commissioner before promptly losing the national election, as was expected.
— S&D Group (@TheProgressives) October 9, 2014
Fajon’s chances will be bolstered because she is a woman. The biggest political parties in the European Parliament have repeatedly warned they will vote down Juncker’s team if it& has less than nine women. Without Bratušek, there are only eight.
After Juncker confirmed Bratušek& had quit, the two biggest political parties in the parliament, the S&D and the majority European’s People’s Party (EPP), came out to support Fajon.
The Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, said in a statement that Fajon was already one of the candidates presented by the Slovenian government last summer. She perfectly fits the bill to become Slovenia’s Commissioner, he said.
Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of the European Socialists (PES) said Fajon has the experience, skills and energy to be the right candidate. “Tanja has my support and that of the PES Presidency,” he said.
Fajon, a former journalist, was elected for the first time to the European Parliament in 2009. She sits in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.
Juncker team reshuffle
Following Bratušek’s rejection, Juncker will most likely be forced to reshuffle his team, Parliament sources told EutAcitv.
Commissioner-designate Tibor Navracsis, who is currently responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship, could get the Transport and Space portfolio. Indeed, centre-left only MEPs agreed to keep Navracsis if he is moved to another policy area.
With Bratušek out, the Energy Union Vice-Presidency could be offered to the Slovak nominee Maroš Šef?ovi?, who was initially chosen by Juncker as his Transport and Space Commissioner.
Finally, if Fajon is to replace Bratušek, she could take the Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship portfolio from Navracsis.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the new President of the European Commission, announced the distribution of portfolios among his new team on 10 September.
Among the new Commissioners, due to take up their posts on 1 November, are 18 former (prime) ministers. The President has announced that the new Commission will be "very political".
The new Commission must now be approved by the European Parliament, who will interview the commissioners between 29 September and 7 October.
During these two weeks of hearings, the 27 commissioners will be interviewed by MEPs from relevant parliamentary commissions.
Parliament can then accept or reject the whole team.
- 13-14 October: European Parliament's political group leaders (Conference of Presidents) meets to declare the hearings closed and finalise the evaluation
- 13-17 October: More auditions to be held for newly designated commissioners
- 22 October: Parliament votes to reject or approve the new Commission as a whole
- 1 November: New Commission expected to take office
- EPP: EPP Group urges Slovenia to appoint an experienced woman for European Commission as soon as possible (9 Oct. 2014)
- S&D: Pittella: Bratušek rejected because of her poor performance – Fajon is the natural candidate (9 Oct. 2014)
- EURACTIV France: Les options pour remplacer Alenka Bratusek après sa démission
- EURACTIV Poland: Kontrowersje wokó? kandydata S?owenii do KE
- EURACTIV Romania: Slovenia revine cu o noua propunere pentru postul de Comisar European