Reynders to get budget portfolio in new EU Commission

Reynders to get budget portfolio in new EU Commission
© Belga

Didier Reynders, currently foreign affairs and defence minister in the caretaker government of party colleague Charles Michel (MR), has been awarded the budget portfolio in the EU Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen, Belga and De Standaard report.

Von der Leyen met with her new Commission colleagues this week in Brussels, where she handed out the portfolios each will be responsible for during their five-year term. The details have not been released, but the paper claims to have the information from a reliable source.

Reynders was Belgium’s sole nomination for the single post of Belgium’s commissioner, despite a rule that each country must nominate a man and a woman. That rule appears to have been suspended.

His nomination by his party colleague caused some unease among other parties, who thought it inappropriate for MR, a minority party in the government, to provide both the new commissioner and the president of the European Council – the post offered to Michel by his fellow heads of state and government.

However there was a general feeling that Reynders would be third time lucky in this case, having failed to be chosen as president of the Council of Europe based in Strasbourg and prior to that having missed out on an appointment as commissioner in 2014. As budget commissioner, he will be responsible for piloting the Commission’s 2021-2017 budget through the procedure.

Since the new Commission aims to start work on 1 November, Reynders will need to have completed his task, together with Flemish socialist Johan Vande Lanotte, of sounding out the parties with a view to creating a new federal government coalition.

According to the two sources, the other portfolios have been distributed as follows:

Josep Borrell (Spain) high representative for foreign relations; Margrethe Vestager (Denmark) informatics; Frans Timmermans (Netherlands) climate policy. All three become vice-presidents of the Commission.

Margaritis Schinas (Greece) defence and space policy; Johannes Hahn (Austria) internal affairs; Sylvie Goulard (France) competition; Paolo Gentiloni (Italy) internal market.

Some portfolios, such as migration, have yet to be attributed. Romania has nominated a man and a woman, one of whom will gain a post. The full Commission will be made up of 27 members, one per member state, including the president and excluding the United Kingdom, which is preparing to leave the Union.

Once the Commission is fully constituted, the European Parliament will hold hearings of individual commissioners from 30 September to 8 October, after which it has the option of approving or rejecting the entire team.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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