by Nikos Androulakis
The incoming President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, presented the new structure of the Commission, the body of the Union’s executive power and the responsibilities of the Commissioners, following the example of Junker who has drastically changed his way of working and of redistributing responsibilities to important portfolios, which is also associated with changing goals. Addressing climate change is becoming a priority with its emergence as ’soft power’ in the fields of foreign policy and defense. At the same time, adapting to the new digital age is of particular importance so that the Union can move forward with its own agenda and rules.
Margaritis Schinas’ assumption of the role of Vice President is a major Greek success credited mainly to him because of his activity and presence in European institutions over the years. But the choice of the portfolio’s name by the new President, "Protecting the European Lifestyle," in combination with the responsibilities for Migration Policy and Security, has been criticized by the majority of the international press. The reactions were so intense that it led both Juncker and Parliament to ask for the change of the official title, on the second day.
What does the European lifestyle mean to Mrs von der Leyen, especially when she decides to give Mr Orban’ s , former Minister of Justice, a sensible portfolio of Enlargement, who is also responsible for sliding Hungary on the front of the state of justice and of the statutes’ independence? The responsibility of monitoring the compliance of Western Balkan accession countries such as Albania and Turkey’s monitoring of such a policy by the Orban government cannot be considered a positive development. How could someone, who breaks the Copenhagen criteria, ask for it?
One good point that I would like to point out is that as rapporteur of the European Parliament for rescEU, upgrading the European Civil Protection Mechanism as a key policy tool is now the main responsibility of the new Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic. Positive expectations are also generated by the strong presence of Commissioners from the Socialist Group and the acquisition of important portfolios such as the Economy, Cohesion and Employment.
The next few days will be realized the hearings of the new Commissioners from the European Parliament.
There the MEPs will be able to evaluate the candidates on the basis of their abilities, positions and views and if they can meet the challenges.
Otherwise, we can ask for their replacement or change of their portfolio. I think this has to do with the Hungarian candidate as well. We cannot keep up with compromises based on the minimum common denominator. We need ‘’brave changes’’ to stop the European vision from fading away.
* first published in: "Ta Nea" newspaper