Open Europe Blog

In a recent briefing, we stressed that David Cameron needs to pick a ‘heavy-hitter’ as UK’s next European Commissioner if he wants to secure a key portfolio for the UK. Our point is reinforced by a quick look at the candidates being (more or less officially) lined up by other EU member states.

If the UK drags its feet on ‘declaring’ its candidate, and then sends someone not considered up for the job, we suspect its chances will pretty much have evaporated.

FRANCE – Former Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici is regarded as the frontrunner. The possible alternative could be Élisabeth Guigou, who has served as French Europe Minister, Justice Minister and Employment Minister.

GERMANY – Günther Oettinger looks very likely to stay on as German Commissioner. A former Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, he has gained influence within Angela Merkel’s CDU party during his five years as EU Energy Commissioner.
ITALY – Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini is widely tipped to become the new Italian Commissioner. She is currently regarded as the frontrunner to replace Lady Ashton as EU foreign policy chief. 

FINLAND – Former Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen will be the new Finnish Commissioner. He has already replaced Olli Rehn, who had to take up his seat in the European Parliament. Importantly, Katainen stepped down as Finnish Prime Minister precisely because he had set his eyes on a job in Brussels.

SPAIN – Former Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Cañete is the favourite to become the new Spanish Commissioner. He resigned in April after being picked by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as Partido Popular’s top candidate in the European Parliament elections.

POLAND – Various names have been suggested. Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski remains the frontrunner (despite the recent wiretapping scandal). Former Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski and former EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski – recently elected as an MEP – are also in the race.

NETHERLANDS – The frontrunner is Finance Minister and Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is one of the two big contenders for the key post of Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner along with France’s Pierre Moscovici.

ESTONIA – Former Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, leader of the liberal Estonian Reform Party, will be the new Estonian Commissioner, according to what Jean-Claude Juncker just said during his hearing with MEPs from the ALDE group.

What is somewhat different with this lot is that it includes a range of acting or former senior ministers still very much operating on the political centre stage in their respective countries. With some exceptions, the time when countries sent to Brussels whoever the sitting government tried to ‘get rid of’ seems pretty much over.

Cameron better get a move on.

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