[Check Against Delivery]
President-elect of the European Commission
The Juncker Commission: The Right Team to Deliver Change
Brussels, 10 September 2014
I know you have all been waiting for this moment for some time. (I have also been waiting for this moment!). I am here to relieve you of the suspense!
It is with great pleasure that I am standing in this room today. It brings back some memories – of joint press moments with President Barroso. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to his work and dedication at the helm of the European Commission for the past 10 years. With his safe pair of hands, he managed to steer this institution through some stormy waters. I also want to sincerely thank him for all the assistance and friendly cooperation he has offered me during this transition phase.
I was elected on the basis of a political programme. The Political Guidelines that I presented before the European Parliament on 15 July and in the European Council on 16 July are our programme for the next five years – I trust you have all been studying them diligently. Today I am here to tell you who will make sure we deliver them and how.
With the beginning of the new Commission, we have an exceptional opportunity, but also an obligation, to make a fresh start and get down to work to address the very difficult geo-political situation; to strengthen economic recovery and to build a united Europe that delivers jobs and growth for its citizens.
I have the right team to do it.
It has not been easy. I have formed many governments in my time but then I had the advantage of being able to choose each person. This was not the case when forming this College. I am grateful to those countries who offered me a choice.
1. Who we are
So here is my choice. Today I am putting my team on the field. I am convinced that it is a winning team. I have met each and every one of the candidates I present to you today – in a marathon of 27 interviews that I conducted last week – and I can personally vouch for the competence and experience they bring to the table:
This is my team. And I want us to work together.
2. How we work
I have decided to make some changes and to shake things up a bit.
I want us to be able to deliver quickly and effectively. Form has to follow function. I have therefore organised my team to reflect the political priorities.
I want the Commission as a whole to be more than the sum of its parts.
So in my Commission there will be team leaders and team players.
Vice-Presidents will not just have an honorary role. They will be in charge of steering and coordinating project teams. These mirror the political guidelines – for example, that priority projects will include A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment; A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy; or a Digital Single Market.
These are not static groups. Their composition may change according to needs and as new projects develop over time. Different Commissioners will contribute to different projects or in some cases several projects.
Let me give you two teams: The Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, will contribute to the project team 'A Stronger Global Actor', led by Federica Mogherini, as well as to the Jobs, Growth and Investment agenda led by Jyrki Katainen. Or take the Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Commissioner. Věra Jourová will have to lead Europe's efforts for strong and uniform data protection standards, thus contributing to the project team on A Connected Digital Single Market led by Andrus Ansip. Věra will also work closely with the First Vice-President in charge of Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Frans Timmermans.
This will mean we will all work in a more close-knit and dynamic fashion – breaking down silo approaches.
Every Member of the team has a portfolio and each and every one will need to play their part in this new collaborative way of working.
Vice-Presidents will act on my behalf. To empower them to deliver on their priority projects, I will entrust Vice-Presidents with special responsibilities. For example, as a general rule I 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 the relevant Vice-President, on the basis of sound arguments and a clear narrative.
So you see, in the new system, Vice-Presidents and Commissioners will be mutually dependent on one another. Like in any team sport, if you try to play alone, you lose. If you team up, you win.
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 the contributions of his or her Project Team Commissioners to successfully complete the project assigned to him or her.
Another important novelty is the creation of a First Vice-President. Frans Timmermans will be my right-hand. He will also be in charge of Better Regulation making sure that all Commission proposals withstand the scrutiny of proportionality and subsidiarity. Many are paying lip-service to these principles, I have decided to do something concrete and practical about them by putting Frans Timmermans in charge. I want to be serious about being big on big things and small on small things.
Other than the Vice-Presidents' new role, for the first time, I am also creating five new portfolios namely: the Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union portfolio; the Climate Action and Energy portfolio; the Internal Market and Industry portfolio; the Economic, Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs portfolio and the Environment, Maritime and Fisheries portfolio. I am also making sure that Consumer Policy will have a key role to play, by combining it with the Justice portfolio.
Finally, the Vice-President/High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy will have to make sure that the Commission activates all available tools so that our response to the current geopolitical challenges is both effective and consistent. To that end, she has decided to fix her operational Headquarters here in the Berlaymont, close to me and all Commissioners. And I strongly welcome this.
"This time it's different" was the slogan of the European Parliament elections. I have taken it to heart. This Commission will be different: political, experienced and results-oriented.
We will be doing less, but we will be doing our work more effectively. We will be working as a team and not in silos. We will be political, and not technocratic.
And we will deliver.
Before I take your questions, allow me to introduce another new face. I am happy to announce that Margaritis Schinas will not only be the new face but also the new voice in this press room, as the new Chief European Commission Spokesman. You will have the chance to meet with him very soon. And he will have at his side Mina Andreeva and Natasha Bertaud, who I know you all know well.