Election of the European Commission 22 October 2014

Today the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted on the European Commission. This vote marks the end of a long process to design a team to lead Europe with the elected European Parliament for the next five years.

That team will be led by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission.

There will be 28 Commissioners, one coming from each Member State.

Each Member State has put forward a nominee for the Commission and Mr Juncker has assigned each Commissioner a particular policy area or portfolio.

Each candidate has been examined by the relevant committees in the Parliament through a series of detailed Hearings. MEPs questioned all the candidates to makes sure they were fit for the job.

We didn’t always agree on the candidates. When Miguel Arias Canete appeared before the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), of which I am a member, my colleagues in the Socialists & Democrats Group (S&D) in the European Parliament had serious concerns about the suitability of his candidacy for this position. We heavily questioned Mr Canete on his links to oil companies and his ability to remain impartial in this portfolio. You can view my questioning of Canete here. I did not vote for Canete’s portfolio in Committee.

After the hearing and our concerns were made known to President-elect Juncker, he put forward a number of concessions designed to ease concerns.

Mr Juncker agreed to our political group’s request to add the responsibility of sustainable development to the first Vice-President of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, who is a Social Democrat. It was made clear that this includes the responsibility for coordinating policy on climate action and energy and he acknowledged my concerns about Canete in his Hearing as Vice-President Designate.

The ITRE and the Environment & Public Health Committees (ENVI) could not support the candidacy of Alenka Bratusek, the Slovenian nominee for the position of Vice-President for Energy Union. She was rejected and the Slovenian Government nominated Violeta Bulc in her place. Jonathan Hill, the UK Conservative Coalition Financial Services nominee, was called to a second Hearing at which his nomination was accepted by the relevant Committees.

But today, President Juncker presented his full Commission to the European Parliament at our Plenary session in Strasbourg.

When MEPs vote for the European Commission at a Plenary session we vote on the Commission as a whole – we do not vote on individual members. It is a simple Yes/No/Abstention vote.

Today, 699 MEPs voted today on the new European Commission. Here are the results:

Yes: 423
No: 209
Abstentions: 67

Today’s vote was a Roll Call Vote – this means you can check out how your MEPs voted here.

I voted “Yes” – I support this Commission. I may not be fully in favour of every single member in every portfolio but the European Union’s model is based on compromise and I support the Commission as a whole. However, Labour MEPs have made it abundantly clear that we will continue to assess the Commission, especially in the area of climate action and energy.

In her speech in Parliament today, the Leader of Labour’s MEPs, Glenis Willmott, stressed that we will be closely monitoring the work of the new Commission and made demands to:

  • Revise the Posted Workers Directive and stop the exploitation of migrant workers, and undercutting of local pay and conditions
  • Take action to protect people from the scourge of precarious employment – such as zero hours’ contracts
  • Tackle excessively high energy prices across the EU
  • And get our young people into work

Today marks the beginning of a new five year term for the European Commission. A lot rests on their shoulders. It’s time to get to work.

New Commission Structure