Juncker seeks woman to finalise EC jigsaw

There was just one piece missing from the jigsaw of the new college of European Commissioners following the resignation of the Slovenian candidate yesterday evening.

With a preferred deadline of November 1 for the full team to take office following a European Parliament vote on October 22, there was huge pressure on the Slovenian prime minister to name a replacement.

Incoming EC president Jean Claude Juncker wants the country to put forward another woman so he can have the minimum nine in his college of 27.

The grand coalition of the European Parliament’s two biggest parties, the Socialists and the centre-right EPP, proposed a Socialist Slovene member of the parliament, Tanja Fajon.

However, Slovene premier Miro Cerar, who is also centre-left, said he would not be rushed, despite reports that he had received phone calls from both German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande.

Alenka Bratusek, former Slovene prime minister and a member of the liberal ALDE group, nominated herself after her government lost a general election and while she held a caretaker role.

She was allocated the senior role of vice-president for energy. However, after a disastrous hearing, when she appeared to know little of the brief and less of the way the EU works, she was rejected by 113 votes to 12.

Whether a new nominee from Ljubljana will get the same portfolio and senior position as a former prime minister is unclear but whoever it is will have a hearing before MEPs, and will need to learn about the brief very quickly.

Mr Juncker has proposed shifting some of the areas in which Commissioners designate portfolios to address the concerns of parliament, which has the power to accept or reject his college in its entirely, but cannot reject individual commissioners.


Louisa Earls is a manager at Books Upstairs, D’Olier St, Dublin, which is owned by her father, Maurice Earls.Virus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

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