Following an eventful round of parliamentary hearings which saw one nominee being rejected by MEPs (Slovenia’s Alenka Bratusek), the new European Commission took office as scheduled, on 1 November. The ‘Juncker Commission’, led by former Luxembourger Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, will differ from its predecessor the Barroso Commission in a number of important respects. One key difference is the presence of seven vice presidents who will coordinate the work of the other commissioners who are grouped into ‘project teams’. For example, Jyrki Katainen (Finland), as vice president Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, will coordinate the work of his colleagues like enterprise and industry commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska (Poland) and agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan (Ireland).
Other key commissioners for the food and drink industry include: health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis (Lithuania), environment commissioner Karmenu Vella and research commissioner Carlos Moedas (Portugal). Of particular importance will be Frans Timmermans whom Juncker has appointed ‘First Vice President’; in effect the second-in-command of the new Commission. Timmermans will steer the project group on better regulation and will have considerable influence over the addition by his fellow commissioners of any new initiatives to the Commission Work Programme.