New Commission almost ready to go
Autumn has arrived in the European capital. Just like this season, the winds are changing in the European institutions. We wrote about the election results and developments following the European parliamentary elections in the September edition of our newsletter. After the formation of the European Parliament, the next big step took place: the hearing of the candidates for the posts of Commissioners. The procedures foresee that every Member State gets to nominate a candidate who is subjected to a hearing in the European Parliament. The three hours back-and-forth of the Commissioner-Designates with the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) is also known as ‘grilling of candidates’. This is often an intense debate where the candidates present their priorities and work plans. When the performance of a candidate is judged as not satisfactory by MEPs, they give him or her the chance to provide written replies, followed by a second hearing. This was the case for the Polish Commissioner-Designate for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski. His first hearing was not satisfying according to the MEPs and they did not reach a uniform decision of approval.
During the second hearing, Mr Wojciechowski convinced the MEPs from the different parties. Mr Wojciechowski, who served in the European Parliament for 12 years, was member of the Agricultural Committee with a special focus on animal welfare. He clearly stated the ambition of the Commission to continue with the current proposal for a new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) rather than starting from scratch. When elaborating about the CAP post-2020, Mr Wojciechowski stressed the need for fairer payments and a greener architecture, convergence between payments in Eastern and Western Europe and special support for small and young farmers. Furthermore, Mr Wojciechowski stated clearly: "I will support organic farming that might contribute to the protection of natural environmental and I will present an action plan to develop organic farming,"
Another Commissioner-Designate whose work will be relevant to the organic movement is Mr Frans Timmermans. He is said to serve as Executive Vice-President of Mrs Van der Leyen. The Dutch national has longstanding experience in EU politics and is fluent in six languages. Mr Timmermans will be responsible to set up a Green Deal for Europe and is Climate Commissioner-Designate. He promised to propose climate legislation aiming at reaching climate neutrality in Europe by 2050 within his first 100 days in office.
Besides the CAP, the European Green Deal contains the ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’ – sparking hopes for a more integrated food policy, the ‘A zero pollution Europe’ strategy – containing a reduction of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and other interesting proposals for a greener Europe. The Environment and Oceans Commissioner-Designate, the 28 years old Lithuanian Virginijus Sinkevičius, will lead the work on the upcoming Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.
Because the MEPs rejected three Commissioner-Designates, the vote of the Parliament on the entire College of Commissioners has been postponed. The new Commission is expected to take office on 1 December 2019, instead of on1 November.