Belgium’s candidate for the new European Commission, Didier Reynders, is “very happy” to have been designated for the Justice portfolio, which also includes rule of law and consumer protection, the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister told the Belgian news agency, Belga, on Tuesday.
The engagement letter he received from the Commission’s president-elect, Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, mentions justice “in the broad sense”.
The French-speaking Belgian liberal will take over from Dutch socialist Frans Timmerman as the person overseeing compliance with the rule of law, an area in which his predecessor had made his mark as many populist and anti-liberal governments took over in various European countries in recent years.
Reynders said he intended to “raise the verification of compliance with the rule of law to the same level as that of Maastricht’s economic criteria,” and he mentioned such compliance as a condition for obtaining European subsidies.
Reynders, who is Deputy Prime Minister in Belgium’s caretaker government, will also be succeeding Vera Jourova (Czech Republic) in other matters related to Justice, such as anti-crime cooperation, the creation of a future European Public Prosecutor’s Office, consumer protection – privacy, data protection, GDPR) and the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence.
If his designation is confirmed by the European Parliament, Belgium will have inherited one of the potentially high-profile portfolios in the future European Commission.