New European Commission – Juncker merges Energy and Climate change portfolios
European Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled the new shape of the next European Commission in September 2014 introducing significant changes in the structure and portfolios of the Commission. The new European Commission will be streamlined to focus on tackling the big political challenges Europe is facing among them energy security. A number of portfolios have been reshaped including those related to energy and climate policies. The new College will have seven Vice-Presidents, six in addition compared to the former structure, who will be in charge of coordinating Project Teams: different commissioners and directorate generals related to the main policy challenges. The new Vice-president for Energy Union will steer and coordinate the Project Team called “<i>A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy</i>”. The European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected Slovenia’s ex-prime minister, Alenka Bratušek suggested as Vice-president for Energy Union by Junker first, so she withdraw her candidature. As a second choice Juncker confirmed that he wants Slovakia’s Maroš Šefčovič to be his Vice-President for Energy Union who was approved by MEPs without problems. The former separate portfolios Energy and Climate Action have been merged under Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañetewho was approved by the MEPs despite many critical voices including an online petition that attracted nearly 600,000 signatures and a vocal social media and telephone campaign calling for Cañete to be rejected. In his EP hearing Cañete defended the merge of the Energy and Climate portfolios and confirmed his intention to promote renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. He stated always having been supporting the proposals of outgoing Connie Hedegaard Climate Action Commissioner. On the questions form the ITRE Committee Cañete listed among his policy priorities to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 climate and energy framework and develop the legislative framework for energy efficiency, including energy performance of buildings. According to the hearings and the policy briefing prepared for the EP hearings of Cañete energy efficiency should be enhanced beyond the 2020 objective, particularly in the buildings sector, which shows that sustainable energy expected to be high on the political agenda of the next European Commission. The European Parliament gave its consent to Junckers new Commission on 22 October, after the formal appointment by the European Council the European Commission will start its work on 1st of November 2014.