New EU Commission: Mariya Gabriel appointed to innovation and youth

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has appointed the new Commissioners for 2019-2014. On the research side: a portfolio merging innovation and youth is entrusted to the Bulgarian Mariya Gabriel. On the French side, Sylvie Goulard will be in charge of Internal Market. 

A new Commission close to parity

On Tuesday 10 September 2019, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman elected President of the European Commission, unveiled the list of 26 Commissioners for the next 5 years. The United Kingdom, which is due to leave the European Union on 31 October, is not part of it.

This new Commission, presented after several weeks of negotiations, puts climate action on top of its priorities. But the challenges to be met for 2014-2019 are many: the rise of Euroscepticism, trade tensions (especially with the USA), migration crisis, Brexit, social economy, digital era….

For the first time in the Commission’s history, the college of Commissioners-designate almost reaches gender equality, with 13 women and 14 men. In addition, it will respect a new structure, with 3 executive vice-presidents in charge of major contemporary challenges.

Bulgaria for research, innovation and youth

The Bulgarian Commissioner Mariya Gabriel inherits an enlarged portfolio: research and education, hitherto separate, will merge into a single portfolio for innovation and youth. In fact, it will cover the duties of two outgoing Commissioners: Carlos Moedas (Portugal) in charge research, innovation and science and Tibor Navracsics (Hungary) for education, culture and sport.

Mariya Gabriel is not an unknown to the European Institutions. Member of the European Parliament for the European People’s Party from 2009 to 2017, she is the current Commissioner in charge of Digital Economy and Society since 2017. In addition, this Francophile woman is a graduate of the Institut d’études politiques de Bordeaux (Institute of Political Studies), where she has also taught.

Priorities for the next mandate

In her Mission Letter, Ursula von der Leyen addressed Mariya Gabriel key objectives to be met, including:

  • completing the negotiations on Horizon Europe, the future research and innovation Framework Programme for the period 2021-2027;
  • strengthening investment for disruptive research and breakthrough innovations, notably through the European Innovation Council;
  • building a true European Research Area and contributing to the creation of a new industrial strategy at the EU level;
  • concerning Erasmus+: negotiating the tripling of the programme’s budget (to €45 billion) and promoting the European Universities initiative.

The complete list of new commissioners

Below is a complete list of the 26 appointed members, including their countries and portfolios:

  • Frans Timmermans (Netherlands): Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal and Commissioner for Climate Action;
  • Margrethe Vestager (Denmark): Executive Vice-President for “A Europe Fit for Digital Age” and Commissioner for Competition;
  • Valdis Dombrovskis (Latvia): Executive Vice-President for “An Economy that Works for People” and Commissioner for Financial Services;
  • Josep Borrell (Spain): “A Stronger Europe in the World”, Vice-President;
  • Věra Jourová (Czech Republic): Values and transparency, Vice-President;
  • Margaritis Schinas (Greece): “Protecting our European way of life”, Vice-President;
  • Maroš Šefčovič (Slovakia): Inter-institutional relations and foresight, Vice-President;
  • Dubravka Šuica (Croatia): Democracy and Demography, Vice-President;
  • Johannes Hahn (Austria): Budget and Administration;
  • Didier Reynders (Belgium): Justice;
  • Mariya Gabriel (Bulgaria): Innovation and youth;
  • Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus): Health;
  • Kadri Simson (Estonia): Energy;
  • Jutta Urpilainen (Finland): International partnerships;
  • Sylvie Goulard (France): Internal Market, Defense and Space;
  • László Trócsányi (Hungary): Neighbourhood and enlargement;
  • Phil Hogan (Ireland): Trade;
  • Paolo Gentiloni (Italy): Economy;
  • Virginijus Sinkevičius (Lithuania): Environment and Oceans;
  • Nicolas Schmit (Luxembourg): Employment;
  • Helena Dalli (Malta): Equality;
  • Janusz Wojciechowski (Poland): Agriculture;
  • Elisa Ferreira (Portugal): Cohesion and Reforms;
  • Rovana Plumb (Romania): Transport;
  • Janez Lenarčič (Slovenia): Crisis management;
  • Ylva Johansson (Sweden): Internal Affairs.

The next steps: all members will be heard by the European Parliament between 30 September and 8 October, and then submitted to the investiture vote on 22 October 2019, during the plenary session in Strasbourg.