European Commission Restructuring Post Timmermans Resignation

Executive Vice-President in charge of the Green Deal within the European Commission, the Dutchman Frans Timmermans submitted his resignation on Tuesday August 22 to stand as a candidate in the elections in his country. The Netherlands must present a candidate for the post of commissioner.

A page turns in Brussels. European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans tendered his resignation on Tuesday. At the head of a left-wing coalition for the general elections in the Netherlands, the “climate gentleman” of the European executive is now seeking the post of Prime Minister in his country.

“I thank Frans Timmermans for the work he has done with passion and determination to make the European Green Deal a reality,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. A polyglot and former diplomat, the Dutchman had been a member of the College of Commissioners from 2014, for Interinstitutional Relations and the Rule of Law, before becoming Executive Vice-President in charge of EU climate policy in 2019. For nearly four years, Frans Timmermans implemented the Green Deal, the European Union’s ambitious environmental roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

And now ?
With the departure of one of its “key members”, in the words of Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission will be reshaped. Initially, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič takes over the portfolio from Mr. Timmermans. His task will be to ensure the proper application of European environmental legislation and to draw up future texts in this area. The Slovak will also have to participate in the negotiations concerning the law on the restoration of nature, a text to promote biodiversity which divides Europeans.

The Netherlands will now propose a name to replace their commissioner of Dutch nationality, the Commission being made up of 27 members, each from an EU state. After consulting the European Parliament, a priori in the fall, the person appointed by Ursula von der Leyen will be able to take office.

This is the second departure in a few months. The European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Mariya Gabriel, left her post in May to lead the Bulgarian government. Today Minister of Foreign Affairs, she is to become Prime Minister next year. Known for her fines against digital giants, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has declared herself a candidate to take over the presidency of the European Investment Bank (EIB), the financial arm of the European Union.

These changes come a few months before the end of the mandate of the Parliament and the Commission, the next European elections taking place from 6 to 9 June next. A vote that will give the political color of the next hemicycle… and of the new Commission, the MEPs having to approve in a single vote the composition of the future European executive.

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