Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, July 10, 1999 Published at 04:51 GMT 05:51 UK

World: Europe

Who's who in the new European Commission

Romano Prodi's team must be approved by the European Parliament

Incoming President of the European Commission Romano Prodi promised to regain the confidence of Europe's citizens with his new team. News Online looks at who he has chosen.


Neil Kinnock

[ image: Vice-President Kinnock]
Vice-President Kinnock
It was always on the cards that the former leader of the Labour party would keep his job as one of Britain's two Commissioners. Previously in charge with transport, he was known as one of the hardest workers in the old Commission.

His new brief - institutional reform - will be one of the most delicate after the mismanagement scandal that brought down Jacques Santer's team in March. Politics remains a family affair for the Kinnocks - his wife Glenys has just been re-elected to the European Parliament and his daughter-in-law is a Danish social democrat MEP.

Chris Patten

[ image: New appointment Patten]
New appointment Patten
There were press reports that China had expressed its opposition to the putative appointment of the last governor of Hong Kong as a Trade Commissioner. The pro-European Conservative been put in charge of the EU's relations with the rest of the world. His appointment came despite Conservative leader William Hague putting forward the former Tory chief whip, Sir Alastair Goodlad, for the post.


Michel Barnier A Gaullist senator and former Minister for European Affairs, Mr Barnier is one of President Jacques Chirac's "four musketeers," a group of former ministers who worked for his re-election. As expected, he has got the regional portfolio. According to tradition, the two French appointments maintain the balance between right and left.

Pascal Lamy

[ image: Lamy: International trade]
Lamy: International trade
The appointment by the Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin of Pascal Lamy is a more controversial choice. Currently a senior executive at the troubled bank Credit Lyonnais, he was also chief of cabinet to the former European Commission President Jacques Delors and could be contested by right-wing MEPs wary of federalism. As anticipated, he gets the powerful portfolio for international trade.


Guenter Verheugen A Social Democrat, he is the junior minister in charge of European affairs. The German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder originally put him forward for EU foreign and security policy chief, but Mr Verheugen was apparently not considered enough of a heavyweight and the Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana got the job instead. A foreign policy specialist who started his political life with the German liberals, Mr Verheugen will get his dream job as Enlargement Commissioner. On a lighter note, he has a vast collection of model elephants, started during his frequent trips to Africa.

Michaele Schreyer

[ image: Budget Commissioner Schreyer]
Budget Commissioner Schreyer
One of five women in the new Commission. The candidate of the Greens, the junior coalition partners, Ms Schreyer is a former Berlin senator for the environment. This week, she told Green MEPs that she would like the budget portfolio - and that is what she got. But Mr Prodi is known to have reservations about the lack of political balance of the German ticket. Pointing to the centre-right majority in the new European Parliament, he said approval of the German nominations was very uncertain.


Loyola de Palacio

[ image: Vice-President de Palacio]
Vice-President de Palacio
The Conservative agriculture minister stood her ground for Spain during the tough negotiations on the EU's budget reforms. But three of her subordinates have recently stepped down over allegations that EU-subsidised Spanish linen was in fact burnt and a parliamentary inquiry committee is looking into her role in the scandal. A fervent Catholic, popularly known as "the military nun", due to her dour appearance, she has been appointed as vice-president in charge of relations with the European Parliament.

Pedro Solbes The bearded Socialist deputy is a hard worker widely respected by Brussels diplomats. A former finance minister, he was Spain's candidate for the presidency of the European Investment Bank earlier this year but had to quit the race when his countryman Javier Solana became EU foreign policy chief. He will now be in charge of monetary affairs.


Mario Monti - One of the four incumbents who stay on in the new Commission, Mr Monti was previously in charge of the single market and kept a firm hand on the delicate issue of taxation. An academic by training, he was untainted by the allegations of mismanagement and nepotism that led to the resignation of the entire Santer team. A devout Catholic, he is a formal man who insists on calling his long-term spokeswoman Signora. He will take over the challenging portfolio of competition.


Franz Fischler Another veteran of the old Commission, Mr Fischler had been expected to gain a second nomination. He steered the package of reforms of the Common Agriculture Policy through 18 months of tough negotiations and was expected from the start to continue as Agriculture Commissioner. A strong, bearded man, Mr Fischler is a former agriculture minister and his appointment was welcomed by Austrian farmers, although criticised by the Greens.


Frits Bolkestein One of the more flamboyant of the new batch of Commissioners, the leader of the Dutch Liberals is a known Eurosceptic. After many years working for the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, he entered politics and eventually became defence minister. Married to an actress, he indulged his passion for theatre reviewing even as a politician and once got into an open dispute with the left-wing linguist Noam Chomsky over language theory. He wants to set clear limits to the Brussels bureaucracy and will take over the internal market portfolio.


Viviane Reding A Christian Democrat MEP for 10 years, she will now be in charge with education and culture.


David Byrne He held the post of Ireland's Attorney-General for two years and played a key role in framing last year's Good Friday agreement for peace in Northern Ireland. He was selected for his knowledge of the EU's legal ins and outs and has been given the increasingly important portfolio of consumer affairs. He's been criticised as a political lightweight by the opposition in Ireland.


Antonio Vitorino A devoted Socialist ever since he was a student under the Portuguese military dictatorship, Mr Vitorino is a former defence minister and a constitutional court judge. He has been appointed as Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs.


Anna Diamantopoulou The Socialist junior industry minister who was close to the veteran Greek socialist leader Andreas Papandreou becomes the next Employment Commissioner. The Greek press has recently published allegations connected to a company set up by her and her husband which is said to be involved with European Commission contracts.


Philippe Busquin The leader of the French-speaking Socialists in Belgium and a former minister for social affairs, Mr Busquin was appointed not only for his political skills in reforming his party, but also because, under Belgium's complicated quota system, it was time for a French-speaking socialist to succeed a Dutch-speaking conservative - his predecessor was the highly respected Competition Commissioner Karel van Miert. He takes on the more lightweight portfolio of research.


Erkki Liikanen He was his country's first Commissioner on accession to the EU, formerly in charge of budget, personnel and administration, and is one of the four keeping his job. Reputed for his dry sense of humour, Mr Liikanen was untainted by the accusations of sleaze against the Santer team, although his wife Assi was falsely accused of running a company which had tried to profit from EU funding. Coming from the country with the highest number of Internet connections in the world, Mr Liikanen is well prepared to take on the job of Enterprise and Information Commissioner.


Margot Wallstroem A former Swedish culture and social affairs minister, Ms Wallstroem is a media expert who has been running a TV station in Sri Lanka for the last few months. She found out about her appointment during a short holiday back home. She will be in charge of environment, a traditional Scandinavian portfolio.


Poul Nielson The Danish minister for co-operation, Mr Nielson was the last appointment announced for the new Commission. He enjoys great respect among his EU colleagues and was the Union's candidate for the head of the United Nations Programme for Development, a job that eventually went to a Briton. He will be in charge of international co-operation in the new Commission.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift