EU`s Juncker set to reshuffle top team

Incoming EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker hurried to reshuffle his team Wednesday after a row over the Slovenian nominee threatened to delay his inauguration.

Brussels: Incoming EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker hurried to reshuffle his team Wednesday after a row over the Slovenian nominee threatened to delay his inauguration.

Juncker`s commission is due to start its five-year term at the beginning of November as the powerful executive arm of the European Union, a 28-nation bloc of 500 million people.

But problems with Slovenia have left him racing against time to secure the approval of the European parliament for his entire team in a vote on October 22.

Juncker on Tuesday night endorsed Slovenia`s Violeta Bulc as his final commissioner, after the rejection of former prime minister Alenka Bratusek by the bloc`s parliament last week.

The other 26 commissioners -- each EU member state chooses one -- all passed.

Juncker said Bulc, 50, Slovenia`s deputy prime minister, was an "excellent" candidate.

But the inexperienced Bulc, whose fondness for New-Age thinking has already raised eyebrows in Brussels, will get a less senior job than the vice-president for energy union position proposed Bratusek, officials said.

Juncker is set to give her the transport portfolio, moving Slovakia`s Maros Sefcovic from that role into the energy union job, officials close to Juncker told AFP.

Juncker said he had formally sought the approval of the European Council, the EU`s 28 heads of government, for Bulc, before formally giving her a portfolio.

Bulc must then go through the ordeal of a parliament hearing, the same hurdle that brought down Bratusek.

That has to be done before next Wednesday, when the European Parliament is due to vote on Juncker`s team, so it can start work as planned.

Juncker`s spokesman Margaritis Schinas said it was "not possible to say with certainty that the commission led by Mr Juncker will take office on November 3."

If lawmakers disapprove of Bulc they are unlikely to approve the whole commission.

Any delay could have major consequences for key EU policies, especially Juncker`s flagship plan to draw 300 billion euros ($380 billion) of investment to drag the economy away from a possible triple-dip recession.

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