On Tuesday 10th September 2019, President elect Ursula von der Leyen went into the press room of the Berlaymont to announce the most awaited news of the rentrée 2019 in Brussels: the composition of her college of commissioners and portfolio allocation. Some of these decisions have caused some “oh”s and “ah”s of surprises!
Some of the surprises came from the way she decided to reorganise the college by appointing three executive vice-presidents (VP), who will, on top of their executive functions, have a portfolio of their own. Two of these executive VPs were imposed on her by the Council as she was nominated (i.e. Timmermans and Vestager), but Dombrovkis came as a surprise. Two other surprises were the fact that Vestager remains Commissioner for competition and Dombrovkis Commissioner for financial services.
The allocation of portfolios shows that she has taken into account the changing political and international contexts and challenges (climate change, migration, democracy, defence, trade tensions, Brexit,…).
What does it mean for financial services?
For now the reappointment of Vladis Dombrovkis as Commissioner for financial services seems to be the only surprise in store, as his mission will be to complete and further the work he has already done. That is finalising both the Banking Union and the Capital Markets Union, developing a green financing strategy as part of the bigger Green Deal package, putting forward a FinTech Strategy, continuing the fight against money laundering and developing a common approach on cryptocurrencies. However another surprise may come if and when a new Director General for Financial Services is appointed.
Other noteworthy appointments
Paul Hogan from Ireland is to be the new Trade Commissioner. In the context of Brexit, this is a highly important post and with the nomination of an Irish Commissioner to lead on trade deals we can hope that financial services are taken into account.
Paolo Gentiloni the Italian Commissioner, who was only appointed by Italy a few days ago, has an economy portfolio including taxation. His mission statement includes quite a few important topics such as digital taxation at international level, a European digital tax or a carbon border tax.
Nicolas Schmidt the Commissioner sent by Luxembourg has secured the jobs portfolio.
- The European Parliament has to give its consent to the entire College of Commissioners. This will include individual hearings (e.g. Dombrovskis on 8th October) as well as a vote on the college on 23rd October.
- The European Council will then formally appoint the European Commission.
- The new Commission is expected to be in place by 1st of November 2019.
By Aurélie Cassou, Senior Adviser – European Affairs, ABBL & Alfi