On 10 September 2014, President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his team and the new shape of the next European Commission (Commission).
The new Commission will be streamlined to focus on tackling the major political challenges which Europe is currently facing. One such focus will be on energy policy and climate change. The Commission's aim is to pursue a more integrated approach in this sector. Accordingly, a number of Commission work units have been reshaped and streamlined. Significantly, the Environment and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries work units have been combined (under Karmenu Vella). There will also now be one commissioner in charge of both Climate Action and Energy policy (under Miguel Arias Cañete). The Commission has emphasised that strengthening the share of renewable energy is an industrial policy imperative if Europe still wants to have affordable energy in the medium term. Following the rejection by MEPs of the nomination of Alenka Bratuše as the Vice-President of the Energy Union, Mr Cañete will now report to the Dutch nominee, Frans Timmermanns, who adds ‘sustainability, climate action and energy’ to his portfolio of responsibilities.
Margrethe Vestager will be the new commissioner in charge of competition policy. Vestager will succeed Spaniard Joaquín Almunia, who is scheduled to leave office at the end of October. In a key paragraph in the Mission Letter of President Juncker, Ms. Vestager is requested to focus on: “Mobilising competition policy tools and market expertise so that they contribute, as appropriate, to our jobs and growth agenda, including in areas such as the digital single market, energy policy, financial services, industrial policy and the fight against tax evasion”. This further highlights the new shift in emphasis on energy policy.
The reshaping of the Commission and the shift in focus onto energy and climate change is likely to bring about an era of new policy initiatives and potentially legislative change in Europe.