The announcement, on 10 September, of the composition and of the structure of the European Commission by President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has triggered many activities, both for the other EU institutions and for CEEP.
Gender-balanced for the first time, and building up on the evolution proposed by Jean-Claude Juncker in 2014, the proposed College of Commissioners includes further novelties in the structure. The most notable change is the creation of 3 “Executive Vice-President” positions who will both coordinate actions on a policy priority and act as Commissioners (Frans Timmermans “for the European Green Deal” and Climate Change, Margrethe Vestager “for a Europe Fit for Digital Age” and Competition, and Valdis Dombrovskis “for An Economy that Works for the People” and Financial Services). Moreover, five additional Vice-Presidents (for “A Stronger Europe in the World”, for “Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight”, for “Values and Transparency”, for “Democracy and Demography” and for “Protecting our European Way of Life”) will fulfil coordinating missions, with all those over-arching priorities reflecting the Political Guidelines presented by President-elect Ursula von der Leyen at the European Parliament on 2 July.
Starting next Monday (on 30 September), the 25 proposed Commissioners will be grilled by MEPs. Each of them will therefore face the EP committees relevant for their future fields of expertise and will aim to demonstrate that they are fit for job. In 2014, those hearings had led to the replacement of Alenka Bratušek, rejected by the MEPs, by Violeta Bulc, as well as an amendment of the portfolio of Tibor Navracsics (proposed as Commissioner for Education, Culture and Citizenship, and eventually landing the portfolio for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport).
Building up on the contributions of our members, CEEP has engaged with MEPs in order to place our issues and questions into those hearings, preparing a set of more than 60 questions addressed to 17 proposed Commissioners. Following those hearings, a vote of the plenary of the European Parliament is expected on 23 October, confirming that the College of Commissioners presided over by Ursula von der Leyen will be ready to take office on 1 November.
Whilst the new EU landscape is taking a definitive shape, CEEP has also been engaging with the European Parliament, in order to renew the Intergroup on Public Services and SGIs. Together with the bureau of the Intergroup, we intend to make it an open and pluralist platform. Public services and SGIs can only be discussed with a transversal perspective by this Intergroup, which is the only body within the EU institutions specifically dedicated to addressing, at a transversal level, services of general interest. This goal should remain central in the new term, with an increasingly broader support amongst all political groups.
Finally, preparations for the Public Services Summit 2019, to be held on 12 December in Brussels, are now underway. This event will bring together high-level EU institutional leaders, representatives of EU associations, CEEP members and a broad range of external stakeholders. It will aim at positioning CEEP as THE representative of public services’ employers and providers for the new EU institutional leaders, as well as placing our topics and our vision for the future of public services and SGIs in debate. More information will be circulated in the coming weeks and months, and we hope to see and meet many of you during that period.
In the meanwhile, I wish you a good read of this September newsletter.