In a transformative year for the European Union (EU), the vote in favour of the new College of Commissioners marks the end of the ‘Great Transition’ in EU politics, putting the von der Leyen European Commission on track to take office on 1 December. On 27 November, Members of the European Parliament (EP) approved the von der Leyen Commission with 461 votes in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions. What did they vote for exactly? According to the new Commission President, they voted to build a European Union that is more sovereign, assertive and green than ever before.
The new Commission has had a somewhat rough start. The Parliament, unhappy with how Europe’s next leaders were chosen and unusually fragmented after the Green wave and the increased support of Eurosceptic parties following the European Parliament elections in May, did not shy away from using its powers to assert its voice in the appointment of both the Commission President and her College. Von der Leyen herself was approved in July with a razor thin majority after a frantic week of talks with the biggest political parties, and three Commissioners-designate were subsequently rejected.
By proclaiming a “Geopolitical Commission”, von der Leyen pushes the external dimension of the new College. To this end, a strategic approach to areas such as trade, enlargement and the newly created area of defence will be launched. Relations with China, Russia and the United States will remain key to Europe’s position globally. Even more pressing will be relations with the UK; this is one to watch as expectations for a quick and easy trade deal might end up causing even more turmoil than the exit negotiations.
With such a geopolitical agenda the stakes are high for the new Commission. Delivering tangible results will largely depend on effective cooperation with a fragmented European Parliament and the ability to inspire political will amongst heads of government, lately more sceptical of supranational decision-making. Even more importantly, the rise of the Eurosceptic parties across Europe has shown that citizens could become increasingly critical of the future of the European project, should policymakers not succeed in delivering on their promises for a more competitive and socially responsible Europe.
Within this report, FTI Consulting Brussels provides an overview of everything you need to know on the von der Leyen Commission.