BRUSSELS (AFP) – The new EU Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker may miss the official November 1 start of its five-year mandate after the European Parliament rejected Slovenia’s commissioner, a European source said Thursday.
Any delay could have implications for key areas covered by the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, including a major bid to boost jobs and growth, the world’s biggest trade deal with the US, and sanctions against Russia.
Juncker on Wednesday night suffered a major blow to his line-up for the Commission when lawmakers voted against former Slovenian prime minister Alenka Bratusek, who he had nominated for the role of vice president for energy union.
“The Commission cannot take office on November 1” as things stand, the European source told AFP.
With the time needed to find a new Slovenian candidate and hold confirmation hearings, the EU’s new executive arm might not start work “until December 1 or even January”, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The European Parliament had been scheduled to vote on Juncker’s new line up on October 22.
Slovenia has said it will name a new commissioner in two or three days.
Bratusek paid the price for a poor confirmation hearing on Monday, and, as a liberal, she also fell afoul of a political stitch-up between the larger conservative and social democrat groups in parliament seeking to protect their own candidates.
European Parliament committees have held hearings over the past week for each commissioner nominated by the member states earlier this year.
While lawmakers have no formal power to reject individual candidates, the fact that the European Parliament has to vote in favour of the 28-member Commission in its entirety means that any line-up featuring a censured candidate would not get through.