On 22 October, the European Parliament officially elected the College of European Commissioners, which was presented by President-Elect Jean Claude Juncker. In his presentation of the College of Commissioners and their programmes, Juncker stated that he had expected more support for his idea to reform the structure of the Commission in order to make it more efficient.
He said that the Vice-Presidents will not be ‘little bosses’ but that they are responsible for coordination of ideas and initiatives. His comments on the appointment of Frans Timmermans to look into subsidiarity to ensure better regulation and his clear disproval of the lack of female candidates put forward by Member States, including his own country Luxembourg, were welcomed by a big applause.
Juncker did, however, had to make a couple of changes in order to get his college approved by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) groups:
- Sustainable Development has become a part of the portfolio of the First Vice-President: Frans Timmermans.
- Slovenia’s first candidate Alenka Bratušek was replaced by Violeta Bulc.
- Maroš Šefčovič’ portfolio changed from Transport to the Vice-Presidency for the Energy Union as Bulc was not deemed experienced enough to be a Vice-President.
- Medicines and pharmaceuticals were not moved from the Commissioner for Health’s portfolio to the Internal Market after all.
- Space policy was put under the Internal Market Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska.
- Citizenship has been taken out of the portfolio of the Hungarian Tibor Navracsics and moved to the Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs: Dimitris Avramopoulos.
- Lastly, the name of the Enlargement portfolio was changed into ‘Enlargement negotiations’.
In the end this was enough for the College to receive 423 votes in favour. The European Greens, the left-wing European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) and the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) groups provided the 209 votes against. Lastly the 67 abstentions came from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group who were immediately dubbed ‘the abstentionist party’ by Guy Verhofstadt.