In the eyes of Ursula von der Leyen, the next European Commission will be gender-balanced, geopolitical and a “guardian of multilateralism.”
Perhaps fittingly for a Commission led by a former German defense minister, it will also be an EU executive firmly on the defensive — with one top vice president fighting climate change, another fighting the corporate hegemony of U.S. digital behemoths, and others devoted to “protecting our European way of life” and “a stronger Europe in the world.”
Von der Leyen, the first woman ever to lead the institution, put forward her slate of nominees Tuesday. The team has historic, near-perfect gender balance, with women holding 13 of 27 positions. And it has portfolio assignments designed to tackle urgent policy challenges, though some with absurdly aspirational, even pompous names that will do little to counter the EU’s reputation for haughtiness.
Margrethe Vestager, of Denmark, will be executive vice president for “Europe fit for the Digital Age,” while Valdis Dombrovskis, a former Latvian prime minister and current Commission vice president, will become executive vice president for “An Economy that Works for People.” As opposed to for pets, perhaps. Or for aliens.
Timmermans will be in charge of a “European Green Deal” aimed at ramping up EU policy to fight climate change and push sustainability.
Lofty ambitions notwithstanding, von der Leyen’s nominees must be confirmed by the European Parliament — and some of them will face tough scrutiny over allegations of misconduct. That includes Sylvie Goulard of France, who was interviewed by French police on Tuesday in a case involving misuse of EU funds; Rovana Plumb of Romania,