BRUSSELS: Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that her full team of commissioners — the equivalent of an EU cabinet — will be announced next week.
“I am happy to have received all names from EU member states,” von der Leyen tweeted, after Italy, the last country without a nominee, proposed former prime minister Paolo Gentiloni to take a seat in the EU executive, taking office on November 1.
The EU’s powerful executive arm is led by a team of top officials nominated by member countries. Their number will shrink to 27 if Britain leaves the bloc as planned on October 31.
Von der Leyen, Germany’s nominee, seems to have kept close to her promise of achieving gender parity in her team, with at least 12 women nominated to the commission’s leadership by the EU capitals.
The picks however must win confirmation in the European Parliament where nominees will be grilled by MEPs in a series of hearings starting on September 30.
The final gender balance is still not certain as Romania has suggested two names, a man and a woman, with von der Leyen’s final pick yet to be revealed.
– First female commission chief –
Von der Leyen is the first woman to be picked as commission chief. She will replace outgoing European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
For a long time Germany’s defence minister, von der Leyen was chosen as a compromise by EU leaders after an acrimonious summit in June that exposed deep political divisions in the union.
Juncker five years ago had set himself a goal of full gender parity in his own commission, but obtained only nine female nominees from member states and 19 men.
In an interview last week with the German weekly der Spiegel, von der Leyen promised “strong women in the next Commission, who will hold important economic portfolios”.
Among them will be Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager, who is the current competition commissioner and a bete noire for America’s Silicon Valley after slapping Google with billions of euros in fines.
France’s Sylvie Goulard, a former MEP and defence minister, along with Finland’s former finance minister Jutta Urpilainen, promise to be major figures in the new team.