Brussels, 10 September 2014
Questions and Answers: The Juncker Commission
President-elect Jean Claude Juncker today announced the allocation of responsibilities in his team and the way work will be organised in the European Commission once it takes office (see IP/14/984 and SPEECH/14/585). Here are the main facts you should know.
The Juncker Commission at a glance
What are the main changes to the way the Commission works?
President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker explained in his speech before the European Parliament on 15 July 2014 that he wants the Commission's organisation to be geared towards delivering the Political Guidelines on the basis of which he was elected. President-elect Juncker said: "I want a European Union that is bigger and more ambitious on big things, and smaller and more modest on small things." It is with this objective in mind that he chose to organise the new Commission around project teams (see below).
In the Juncker Commission, there will be 6 Vice-Presidents in addition to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who is at the same time a Vice-President of the Commission. There will be a First Vice-President, who will be in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Frans Timmermans). The First Vice-President will act as the right-hand of the President, notably seeking to ensure that every Commission proposal respects the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, which are at the heart of the Commission's work. As the President's deputy, he will oversee the European Commission's relations with the other European institutions.
Vice-Presidents will lead project teams, steering and coordinating the work of a number of Commissioners. This will ensure a dynamic interaction of all Members of the College, breaking down silos and moving away from static structures.
Vice-Presidents and Commissioners will be mutually dependent on one another. A Commissioner will depend on the support of a Vice-President to bring a new initiative into the Commission Work Programme or on to the College Agenda. At the same time, a Vice-President will depend on his or her Project Team Commissioners' contributions to successfully complete the project assigned to him or her. Every Member of the Commission has a portfolio, some are broader and more horizontal, whilst others are more specialised. All Members of the College will need to play their part in this new collaborative way of working.
What is the role of Vice-Presidents in the Juncker Commission?
President-elect Juncker has chosen to entrust the Vice-Presidents with specific tasks that they will have to deliver.
The Vice-Presidents will be in charge of a number of well-defined priority projects and will steer and coordinate work across the Commission in the key areas of the Political Guidelines, such as giving a new boost for jobs, growth and investment, a connected Digital Single Market, a resilient Energy Union and a deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union. This will allow for much stronger cooperation across areas of responsibility, with several Commissioners working closely together with the Vice-Presidents, in compositions that may change according to need and to possible new projects developing over time.
Vice-Presidents will also have a strategic filtering role. As a general rule, the President will not put any new initiative in the Commission Work Programme or on the agenda of the College that has not received the backing of a Vice-President, on the basis of sound arguments and a clear narrative. In this respect and considering the specific priority given to the better regulation agenda and budgetary constraints, the President will pay particular attention to the opinion of the First Vice-President, in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Frans Timmermans) and of the Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources (Kristalina Georgieva).
The Vice-Presidents will also decide who, in their area of responsibility, will represent the European Commission in the other European institutions, in national Parliaments and in other institutional settings at national, European and international level.
Vice-Presidents will be supported by the Secretariat General in their tasks but will primarily rely on the close cooperation with the relevant Commissioners and the services that report to them.
How will the project teams function?
Project Team: A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment
Jean-Claude Juncker: "My number one priority and the connecting thread running through each and every proposal will be getting Europe growing again and getting people back to decent jobs."
The team leader is Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competiveness.
One of the Commission's top priorities will be to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness and to stimulate investment and create jobs. The Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness will notably be tasked with steering, coordinating, presenting and implementing an ambitious Jobs, Growth and Investment Package which should allow us to mobilise up to € 300 billion in additional public and private investment in the real economy over the next three years.
He will therefore need to steer and coordinate the work of several Commissioners, who will all be contributing their part to the Package and, more generally, to the overarching goals. He will, in particular, steer and coordinate the work of the Commissioners for Economic and Financial Affairs; Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility; Regional Policy; Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union; Digital Economy and Society; Climate Action and Energy; and Transport and Space.
Project Team: A Digital Single Market
Jean-Claude Juncker: "By creating a connected digital single market, we can generate up to € 250 billion of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, notably for younger job-seekers, and a vibrant knowledge-based society. The EU should become a leader in the creative industries, but in full respect of cultural diversity."
The team leader is Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market.
To make better use of the opportunities offered by digital technologies, national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in the application of competition law need to be broken down. Copyright rules, in the future under the responsibility of the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society (Günther Oettinger), should also be modernised in the light of the digital revolution and new consumer behaviour. They should help build a successful European media and content industry. Cultural diversity will remain a Commission priority in this context.
The Vice-President for the Digital Single Market will notably be tasked with presenting ambitious legislative steps towards a connected digital single market. He will steer and coordinate the work of, in particular, the Commissioners for Digital Economy and Society; Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility; Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality; Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs; Regional Policy; and Agriculture and Rural Development.
Project Team: A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy
Jean-Claude Juncker: "I want to reform and reorganise Europe’s energy policy into a new European Energy Union. We need to pool our resources, combine our infrastructures and unite our negotiating power vis-à-vis third countries. We need to diversify our energy sources, and reduce the high energy dependency of several of our Member States."
The team leader is Alenka Bratušek, Vice-President for Energy Union.
The European Union needs a resilient Energy Union. Diversifying our energy sources, and reducing the high energy dependency of several of our Member States will make the European Union more independent whilst strengthening the share of renewable energies and increasing Europe's energy efficiency will help create jobs and reduce costs. This will notably include a binding 30 % objective for energy efficiency by 2030, as called for by President-elect Juncker in his speech before the European Parliament on 15 July. The Vice-President for Energy Union will notably be tasked with reforming and reorganising Europe’s energy policy into a new European Energy Union. The Vice-President for Energy Union will steer and coordinate in particular the work of the Commissioners for Climate Action and Energy; Transport and Space; Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Regional Policy; Agriculture and Rural Development; and Research, Science and Innovation.
Project Team: A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union
Jean-Claude Juncker: "The crisis has only been paused. We must make use of this pause to consolidate and complement the unprecedented measures we have taken during the crisis, simplify them and make them more socially legitimate. It is not compatible with the social market economy that during a crisis, ship-owners and speculators become even richer, while pensioners can no longer support themselves."
The team leader will be Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue.
On the basis of the “Four Presidents Reports” and the Commission’s Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, and with Europe’s social dimension in mind, the Commission must continue with the reform of Europe's Economic and Monetary Union to preserve the stability of the euro. The Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue will notably be tasked with overseeing the European Semester (Europe's economic governance cycle) and with coordinating, presenting and implementing initiatives to enhance the convergence of economic, fiscal and labour market policies between the Member States that share the euro.
Economic reforms and adjustment programmes need to be accompanied by flanking social measures. This can only be achieved through a constant dialogue with European social partners, business representatives and trade unions. The social market economy can only work if there is a social dialogue, notably when it comes to sensitive issues such as maintaining wages and wage indexation. It is for this reason that a specific Vice-President, the Vice-President for the Euro and the Social Dialogue, has been made responsible for promoting and supporting the European social dialogue.
He will steer and coordinate in particular the work of the Commissioners for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs; Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility; Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union; Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship; Regional Policy; and Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.
First Vice-President, in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights
The creation of a First Vice-President, who will be in charge of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Frans Timmermans), follows the commitment made by President-elect Juncker to the European Parliament. The First Vice-President will act as the right-hand of the President. As Vice-President in charge of Better Regulation, he will notably ensure that every Commission proposal respects the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, which are at the heart of the work of the Commission. The First Vice-President will also act as a watchdog, upholding the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law in all of the Commission's activities. This is a strong symbol of the Commission's commitment to the respect of the rule of law and fundamental rights.
He will thus work with all Commissioners and particularly closely with the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality and the Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs due to their close link with fundamental rights and the rule of law.
As the President's deputy, he will be tasked with overseeing the European Commission's relations with national Parliaments and with the other European institutions.
Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources
In economically challenging times, it is more important than ever that human and budgetary resources are used to best effect.
To ensure that resources are allocated according to the Commission's political priorities and to ensure that every action delivers maximum performance, the Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources (Kristalina Georgieva) will vet all Commission initiatives for their budgetary and personnel implications. She will also be asked to further modernise European public administration, including by making stronger use of digital technologies. She will be tasked to bring female representation in the Commission's senior and middle management to 40% by the end of the mandate. She will work with all Commissioners.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Jean-Claude Juncker: "We need better mechanisms in place to anticipate events early and to swiftly identify common responses. We need to be more effective in bringing together the tools of Europe’s external action. Trade policy, development aid, our participation in international financial institutions and our neighbourhood policy must be combined and activated according to one and the same logic."
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (Federica Mogherini) is Europe's "Foreign Minister", conducting the European Union's foreign policy and representation in third countries and international organisations. She has a unique status under the Treaties, at once representing Member States as the Union's High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy and, at the same time, representing the Commission as one of its Vice-Presidents.
In the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President will be responsible for the project of 'A Stronger Global Actor', helping steer all of the Commission's external relations activities.
In order to combine the tools available in the Commission in a more effective way, the High Representative will steer and coordinate the work, in particular, of the Commissioners for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations; Trade; International Cooperation and Development; and Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. The High Representative, as a Vice-President in the European Commission, must play her role fully within the College of Commissioners. To make this possible, whenever she sees the necessity to do so, she will ask the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations and other Commissioners to deputise in areas related to Commission competence. This will free up the High Representative to focus her efforts on tackling the real geopolitical challenges.
What is the basis of the proposed changes to the organisation of the Commission?
Under Article 17(6) of the Treaty on European Union the right to organise the work of the Commission is a prerogative of its President.
Article 17 Treaty on European Union
6. The President of the Commission shall:
(a) lay down guidelines within which the Commission is to work;
(b) decide on the internal organisation of the Commission, ensuring that it acts consistently, efficiently and as a collegiate body;
(c) appoint Vice-Presidents, other than the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, from among the members of the Commission.
How are decisions taken – what about collegiality?
All Members of the College (the President, the Vice-Presidents and the Commissioners) have one vote. Since all decisions are collegiate, all Commissioners have a stake in every decision.
Will there be a Deputy for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy and what will his role be?
On 8 September, President-elect Juncker has agreed with the High Representative/Vice-President (Federica Mogherini) on a new pragmatic approach for a more effective external action of the Union. On this basis, the Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and for Enlargement Negotiations (Johannes Hahn) and other Commissioners will deputise for Federica Mogherini in areas related to the Commission competence whenever she sees a necessity to do so.
President-elect Juncker said in his Political Guidelines: "I intend to entrust other external relations Commissioners with the task of deputising for the High Representative both within the work of the College and on the international stage."
How will the work be divided between the Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue and the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs?
The Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue (Valdis Dombrovkis) and the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs (Pierre Moscovici) will work in a spirit of collegiality and mutual dependence (see above under 'Vice-Presidents'). The Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue will be in charge of the European Semester (the European economic governance cycle) and thus steer and coordinate the work of a number of Commissioners who contribute to the European Semester (see the chart for 'Project Team: A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union' above). The Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs will thus contribute to the economic and fiscal strands of the European Semester, next to the Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility (Marianne Thyssen) who will contribute to its labour market and social strands, and to initiatives on the deepening of the Monetary Union (and more generally to the 'Project Team: A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union') but as his portfolio is much broader – including Taxation and Customs – he will also work with the Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources (Kristalina Georgieva) and the Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness (Jyrki Katainen).
Why have Climate Action and Energy been brought together in one portfolio?
Europe needs one, strong voice to speak on behalf of the European Union ahead of the United Nations Paris meeting in 2015 and beyond. The Commissioner in charge of Climate Action and Energy (Miguel Arias Cañete) will be equipped with all the necessary tools to do so, under the steer and guidance of the Vice-President for Energy Union (Alenka Bratušek). Climate action and energy are mutually reinforcing: strengthening the share of renewable energies, is not only a matter of a responsible climate change policy. It is, at the same time, an industrial policy imperative if Europe still wants to have affordable energy in the medium term. Improving energy efficiency in turn will not only help create jobs in key sectors and cut costs for consumers, but it will make Europe's energy policy more sustainable. In short: climate action and energy policy go hand-in-hand and are now in one pair of hands.
The Directorates General for Climate and Energy remain two distinct services. They will however report to one Commissioner.
Why is there a Commissioner for Economic and Financial and Taxation and Customs?
The new Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs portfolio (under Pierre Moscovici) will ensure that taxation and customs union policies remain part and parcel of the genuine Economic and Monetary Union and contribute to the smooth functioning of the overall economic governance framework of the EU. Taxation should not be seen as an isolated policy area decoupled from the broader economic framework for which the Commission is in charge. On the contrary, particularly in the wake of the financial crisis, it has become clear that taxation must be an integral part of the Commission's efforts to work towards a deep and genuine Economic and Monetary Union.
Why is there a new Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union?
In just a few years the EU has put forward an ambitious and unprecedented series of regulatory and supervisory reforms to secure financial stability and improve the supervision of financial markets. Therefore the time has come to focus the existing expertise and responsibility in one place. The Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (Jonathan Hill) will in particular ensure that the Commission remains active and vigilant in implementing the new supervisory and resolution rules, making European banks more robust so that they can get back to lending to the real economy.
Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of Europe's economy. Overcoming the financial fragmentation in lending markets will help them thrive and boost their economic performance. The next frontier will also be to develop and integrate capital markets which are a better source of credit than bank credit when it comes to financing innovative projects and long-term investment.
The Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union will also be responsible for relations with the European Banking Authority (EBA); the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA); the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA); the European Systemic Risks Board (ESRB) and the Single Resolution Board (SRB, which should be operational from 2015).
Why has the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries been brought together in one portfolio?
Environmental, maritime and fisheries policies have in common firstly, the need to conserve natural resources and secondly that they are all crucial vectors for our competitiveness. The Environment and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries portfolios have been combined (under Karmenu Vella) to reflect the twin logic of "Blue" and "Green" Growth – environment and maritime conservation policies can play a key role in creating jobs, preserving resources, stimulating growth and encouraging investment. Protecting the environment and maintaining our competitiveness have to go hand-in-hand: both are about a sustainable future.
Why is there no Commissioner solely for Enlargement?
The Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (Johannes Hahn) will be responsible for a strengthened neighbourhood policy, but also for ongoing enlargement negotiations.
In his Political Guidelines, President-elect Juncker said: "The EU needs to take a break from enlargement so that we can consolidate what has been achieved among the 28. This is why, under my Presidency of the Commission, ongoing negotiations will continue, and notably the Western Balkans will need to keep a European perspective, but no further enlargement will take place over the next five years."
What are the next steps for the Juncker Commission to take office?
President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker communicated the list of Commissioners-designate to the Council of the European Union on 5 September 2014.
This followed a series of interviews held with each of the candidates personally by the President-elect and the appointment, on 30 August, in agreement with the President-elect, of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who will also be a Vice-President of the Commission.
The final list of Commissioners-designate was adopted in common accord with the Council of the European Union, in accordance with Article 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union on 5 September 2014.
In a next step, the European Parliament has to give its consent to the entire College of Commissioners, including the President and the High-Representative Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. This is preceded by hearings of the Commissioners-designate in the relevant parliamentary committees, in line with Rule 118 of the Parliament's Rules of Procedure. Once the European Parliament has given its consent, the European Council formally appoints the European Commission, in line with Article 17(7) TEU.
For more information:
Following an EU-wide election campaign, Jean-Claude Juncker was proposed as candidate for President of the European Commission by the European Council on 27 June 2014. On the basis of the Political Guidelines he set out before the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker was elected to become next President of the European Commission by a strong majority of 422 votes in the European Parliament plenary session of 15 July 2014.
Homepage of President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker:
Political Guidelines for the Next European Commission: 'A New Start for Europe: My Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change':