Written by Aidan Christie.
The entire college of European Commissioners undergoes hearings before the European Parliament’s committees, to assess their qualifications to hold the office of Commissioner and to take responsibility for the portfolio they have been assigned. Before they can take up office, the college as a whole is then subject to a vote in Parliament’s plenary. This process took place in autumn 2019, concluding with the Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen taking office. As background to the hearings, EPRS produced a set of briefings, covering each of the portfolios of the then Commissioners-designate.
When an individual Commissioner has to be replaced during their term in office – most often due to their resignation – a similar procedure applies. Again the parliamentary committee(s) which covers the portfolio concerned holds a hearing, and then following their assessment, the whole Parliament votes in plenary on the nominee. Changes during the Commission mandate may involve a new Commissioner-designate, or may also involve a current member of the Commission taking on a different or enlarged portfolio. In the latter case, the hearing is held only to assess their qualifications to take on the new portfolio.
In the current Commission mandate, a number of portfolio changes have been required, with EPRS publishing briefings for the hearings in parliamentary committees.
October 2023, following the resignation of Frans Timmermans:
Maroš Šefčovič – Executive Vice-President: European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight (portfolio change)
Wopke Hoekstra – Climate action
September 2023, following the resignation of Mariya Gabriel:
Iliana Ivanova – Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
October 2020, following the resignation of Phil Hogan:
Valdis Dombrovskis – Executive Vice-President: An Economy that Works for People / Trade (portfolio change)
Mairead McGuinness – Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union