For the new European Commission to take office – initially scheduled for 1 November – we are still missing four confirmations and a final confirmation vote in the European Parliament.
Three Commissioners-candidates were rejected earlier by the European Parliament. The French Sylvie Goulard was denied after her hearing. The Romanian Rovana Plumb and the Hungarian László Trócsányi were stopped even before the hearing begun; they were found to have a conflict of interest.
The three capitals were requested to send new candidates. The Romanian candidate was “in limbo” due to a difficult political situation in Bucharest. Finally a new PM Ludovic Orban nominated Adina-Ioana Vălean after consulting Ursula von der Leyen.
The Hungarians downgraded their candidate from a high-profile Trócsányi to the civil servant level, Olivér Várhelyi. Both Várhelyi and Vălean should be acceptable during the next line of hearings in the Parliament.
The French new nominee might prove more problematic to swallow. Thierry Breton is a former businessman; the issue is always delicate with the Parliament’s left wing groups.
Worse for von der Leyen, the delicate gender balance of the initial college (13-14) is now shifting to 12-15; even a female British commissioner would not improve the situation much (13-15).
Boris Johnson was asked by Ursula to propose a British nominee as soon as possible. Will he comply? Clearly there should be a British Commissioner in a European Commission if the rule of one Commissioner per member state was to be respected. As long as Brexit has not happened there is room for a British Commissioner in the Commission, Juncker or von der Leyen.
But there is no new Commission without a final OK from the European Parliament to the entire college. The timetable is that next week there should be the missing hearings, and should everything go smoothly, the Commission vote could be scheduled still in November.
Ursula von der Leyen hopes for her College to begin on 1 December.