Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager should take over Kristalina Georgieva’s Commission vice-presidency , as a result of the new alliance between the European People’s Party and liberal ALDE groups, sources told EURACTIV France.
Vestager is a member of ALDE, which is led by Guy Verhofstadt. Yesterday’s election of the European People’s Party (EPP) candidate Antonio Tajani as the new president of the European Parliament has increased ALDE’s influence.
The EPP was careful to point out that “the ALDE agreement concerns the Parliament and the Parliament alone, and cannot have an impact on the executive”.
The Commission jealously protects the allocation of portfolios to Commissioners. “President Juncker will make a decision soon on the subject,” insisted a spokesman.
“This Commission has a specific relationship with the European Parliament thanks to the Spitzencandidaten electoral process. We will continue to work closely with the pro-European majority of this Parliament,” said Commission Chief Spokesman Margaritis Schinas in Strasbourg Tuesday (17 January).
The coalition that has swept former Commissioner Tajani to power is not as pro-European as the executive would have liked. Strengthening ALDE’s influence by allocating the group a vice-president position would be politically symbolic.
The Danish Commissioner would also be an easy sell for the executive to make as a result of her high-profile involvement in the Ireland-Apple tax case.
Vestager’s profile has skyrocketed and she has become the figurehead of the fight against tax evasion in Europe, even more so than Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici.
Vestager, who inspired the hit Danish TV show Borgen, is also one of the few Commission personalities that American observers know.
Her nomination as a vice-president would also draw unwanted attention away from Günther Oettinger taking over Georgieva’s now-vacant budget portfolio.
Oettinger was criticised for making racist, sexist and homophobic remarks during a speech in Hamburg and was mired in a separate scandal after travelling by private plane to Budapest with a lobbyist.
His appointment to the budget and human resources portfolio is still disputed by several MEPs, including the French Socialist delegation.
“We understand and share the criticisms being levied at Mr Oettinger. What happened in Hamburg and the circumstances of his trip to Budapest have seriously damaged his legitimacy,” it said before Martin Schulz conveyed the European Parliament’s approval to the Commission.