S.9. External Dimension


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Changing the guard… new faces in key EU energy positions

Sunday, December 1, 2019

In  the beginning of December 2019, the new College of Commissioners of Ms Ursula von der Leyen took office. The new Commissioners responsible for energy and climate matters are Mr Frans Timmermans and Ms Kadri Simson. They replace outgoing Mr Miguel Arias Cañete, the Spanish Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action and Mr Maroš Šefčovič, the Vice-President for the Energy Union in Jean-Claude Juncker’s EC who will become Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight under Ms Von der Leyen. Messrs Cañete and Šefčovič were instrumental in the development and adoption of the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” Package and a number of other reforms and policy proposals, like the changes to the EU-ETS.

Dutch Commissioner Timmermans started his term as Executive Vice-President responsible for the European Green  Deal. He was previously First Vice-President in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The announcement of the European Green Deal has been the center of public attention, and is scheduled during an extraordinary sitting of the EP at 2pm on 11 December 2019 in Brussels right before the EuropeanCouncil meeting, scheduled for 12-13 December 2019.

Estonian Commissioner Simson is now the Commissioner for Energy and made her first public appearances as such at the EU PCI Days on 03 December 2019 in Brussels along with recently appointed Director-General for Energy, Ms Ditte Juul-Jørgensen (see news of 31 May 2019: “EC appoints new Director General for energy”).

Complex and overlapping matters like tackling the effects of climate change unsurprisingly will require a close collaboration between the two Commissioners who will also have to involve a  a number of their colleagues to deliver new proposals and policy items on a tight schedule. Such elements include a.o. the Just Transition Mechanism and Sustainable European Investment Plan (08 January 2020), the 2020 Work Programme (29 January), a new EU Climate Law (26 February), and a new Industrial Strategy (04 March), which will require the cooperation of the Executive Vice-President responsible for an Economy that Works for People, Valdis Dombrovskis, and the Commissioners responsible for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, and for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, as well as those in charge of the Internal Market, Transport, and Agriculture.

Furthermore, following the EP legal committee’s rejection on 26 September of Ms Rovana Plumb’s as the Romanian Commissioner-designate due to conflict of interest, Romania has now appointed two possible replacements, namely MEP Adina-Ioana Vălean and MEP Siegfried Mureșan. Ms Vălean was eventually approved by Ms Von der Leyen then passed the EP hearings to become the new Commissioner for Transport.

Ms Vălean, who previously held the position of Head of the influential Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) was replaced during an extraordinary meeting on 04 December 2019 during which the ITRE Members appointed the Romanian MEP Mr Cristian-Silviu Buşoi.