Those who’ve been in Brussels for a couple of decades might barely remember Rocco Buttiglione, the Italy Commissioner-designate that got rejected over his not so politically correct (even for 2004) views and public statements. Back then, Buttiglione was selected by EPP heavyweight, and Italy’s darling, Silvio Berlusconi. The European Parliament was dominated by the EPP with 282 seats, the Socialists (PES) held 203, and ELDR/ALDE held 86.
Those who do remember Rocco, either scoff or laugh.
Then there was Rumiana Jeleva in 2009, another EPP Commissioner-designate, who was selected by Bulgaria’s loved-by-Brussels leader, Boyko Borisov. Not many remember Jeleva, though she remained a vice-president of the EPP Party for a while if memory serves well.
Slovenia’s liberal Alenka Bratusek is certainly one we should remember – as she used her final days as Prime Minister to nominate herself for the position of Vice-President of the European Commission in 2014. Yet somehow, Brussels has forgotten.
France’s candidate in 2019, Sylvie Goulard, too, will be forgotten. It doesn’t matter that she is from France, or that Emmanuel Macron is going to use this as a bargaining chip. It doesn’t matter why she was rejected – whether it was a bad performance or if she got “killed in the vote” by revenge-seeking spitzenkandidat-loving EPP Group leader Manfred Weber. Finally, it also won’t matter that Jean-Claude Juncker might be forced to stay in his job for a little while longer. As soon as the next term officially starts, the machine that is the capital of Europe will start to burn the rocket fuel needed to keep the Berlaymont going for another term.
For the time being, Juncker can give European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, the office, and work out of her future apartment (or vice-versa). The brussels-born three-letter-abbreviated superhero doctor and mother of seven is going to start working sooner or later, and for the benefit of Europe, it’s better that vdL keeps the momentum going and wastes no time.
So buckle up, enjoy the rollercoaster that will be the next few weeks, and wait for that final green light.
And for those worried that the Commission is going to be delayed, remember, the Juncker commission was the only one to start on time since hearings were introduced in 2004.