“Reinforcing economic growth”, “building a united Europe” bue especially “guaranteeing citizens with jobs and growth”: it will be a hard task for the European Commission, and Juncker has already taken it into account, but he also said: “I have the right team to deliver it.” Presenting the distribution of the appointments of the new Commission he created, the President-elected seemed comfortable: “This is my winning team.” Building it, he admitted, was far from easy: “I created several governments in my life,” he said, “but here it was different: a Prime Minister can choose on his own, while here I had to take into account desiderata, dreams, geographical realities and political balances of several States.” All his future collaborators were carefully chosen, he guaranteed: “I personally met them all during a 27-meetin marathon which in some cases took me a lot of time.” Hard work indeed, but now Juncker said he can “guarantee competence and experience for them all.”
Starting from the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, who will also be one the EC Vice Presidents (not the first one though, as it is now with Catherine Ashton). She is “ultra-competent and knows how the world goes,” commented Juncker, “I met her several times and I wasn’t shocked by the quality of her statements, while I was very surprised by the comments made during her appointment.” Mogherini, explained the new chief of the Commission, “decided not to take her seat far from the Commission” as it happened with Ashton, with a separate headquarters: she will instead open “her office here, at the Berlaymont, to show she is one of the Vice Presidents of the Commission of which she is now part, and that she want to fulfil her duties as Vice President.”
Juncker’s team is composed of 9 former Prime Ministers, 19 Ministers, 7 returning Commissioners and 8 former MEPs. “Eleven have a very solid economic and finance background, eight in foreign affairs,” said the President-elect. The gender issue seems solved too: “It was very hard to have nine women,” Juncker admitted, “I had just three at the beginning, and I spent my August on the phone trying to raise that number. I’d been fighting for the last two until Thursday.” For sure, the result obtained “is not brilliant in terms of gender equality, but at least there’s no recession in comparison with the current Commission, and the risk was enormous,” said Juncker. The number will also be compensated by “key portfolios such as Competitiveness, Internal Market, Industry, Jobs and Trade.”
Juncker took for himself a role of coordination: “I do not want to lead a Commission in a presidential way, but collectively,” he explained. “I’m not so young and I’m no dictator,” he joked, even though he reminded that he was the one defining and presenting to Parliament and Council the priorities and guidelines that the new Commission will follow.
Now Juncker needs to wait for the European Parliament to give him green lights – the Parliament will interview each Commissioner and then approve the Commission (or not). “There are some reservations about some Commissioners,” has already said Juncker, “I will respect what the European Parliament decides, and I am also used to the idea that appointments could not be met immediately and enthusiastically in a positive way.”
Once at the Berlaymont, in Juncker’s plans, new Commissioners should be less than static: “I would like to have them heard not only in Brussels, but I’d like them to go and present the guidelines of the Commission to all Member States, not that of their portfolios only: I would like them to present themselves to national press, national Parliaments, NGOs.” In the end, “if the Commission wants to seize this moment to have the European issue taken into consideration, we need to have a true communication policy.” The target hence is to have “citizens proud of Europe.”