By LISBETH KIRK
Frans Timmermans was by far the most popular politician in the Netherlands when he accepted to become first vice-president of the new Juncker commission in Brussels on 1 November last year.
But the transition from the cut-and-thrust of national politics to the peculiarities of the European Commission has not been as easy as expected.
“It has been very, very hard work. Harder than I anticipated”, he admits, as the commission approaches the anniversary (7 February) of its first 100 days in office.
“My previous job wasn’t easy either, but in terms of changing around the culture of an organisation – in terms of trying to really change things – this is the toughest job I’ve ever had,” he told EUobserver during a visit to Denmark last week.
The Dutch politician is officially in charge of “better regulation”, meaning he acts as a filter for new legislation proposed by his colleagues. It is his job to make sure that the EU commission doesn’t get lost in the details but rather focuses on the “big things”.
Has he delivered so far?
“Please have a look. The commission work programme is revolutionary to what we did in the past. And nobody thought we would pull that off. We did!” he says.
He is referring to the annual document that sets out the commission’s plans for the coming 12 months.
The paper is key for EU staff, lobbyists, politicians, media and all others whose daily job depends on knowing what initiatives the EU is considering.
In the past it used to be a big 40-50 page document with well over 100 new initiatives, boiling down to an average of one new law or initiative every three days.
A new way of working
Read the full interview on EUobserver