politjobs.eu job alert – Brussels baby steps on Climate, Commission and Brexit

It takes time to build castles (or deconstruct the EU), the Irish would say – whilst a German proverb would refer to poor squirrels nourishing themselves laboriously: Brussels issues get moving but not off the table.

New Brexit surprises keep us on our toes – just in these past two weeks’ time, Boris Johnson has managed to negotiate a considerably worse deal with the EU than Theresa May, the British Parliament decided to simply not vote on it and thereby force the Prime Minister to request a Brexit delay (which the EU grudgingly granted until 31 January), and, in 4 attempts, to convince sufficient British Parliament members to vote for snap elections on 12 December. No guarantee that this will be finally it, is what EU officials also think, so Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen now had to officially ask the UK to nominate a Commissioner.

As if she did not have enough troubles filling the seats of those already in front of her: neither Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban nor French Emmanuel Macron sent her female candidates. ATOS CEO MEPs will get their say on Thierry Breton and Hungary’s ambassador to the EU, Olivér Várhelyi, at the end of November. Whilst Breton sounds like a safe bet, Várhelyi’s cabinet members as well as fellow Commissioners are in for a rough ride: his leadership style is said to be neither diplomatic nor friendly, to put it diplomatically.

Von der Leyen is still a Romanian candidate short, and her attempt to make a shortcut did not go over well: her letter to Bukarest still reached the outgoing president who was happy to swiftly nominate a party comrade. Following protest from the Romanian president, von der Leyen rejected the choice and is now left with conflicts over who is to nominate a new candidate – the current caretaker government or the incoming government which should be elected on Monday. Again no guarantee that we will see a new Commission starting on 1 December.

Meanwhile, some matters of substance are also under debate. Current Budget Commissioner Günter Oettinger does not get tired to explain that Green Deal policies cannot be financed if Member States do not financially step up to the plate, but the multiannual financial framework still lacks agreement. All members could apparently broadly support is to possibly establish a so-called plastics tax. Surely that is not what Oettinger had in mind.

Meanwhile, debates around a proposal for classifying sustainable investment products – the green taxonomy – is also taking interesting turns. The Council of Ministers considers including nuclear energy, which also brings the gas and fuels industry to voice ideas on how to label their products green. If nothing else, the debate shows that the devil is in the detail and a lot more detail is needed to come up with a clearcut definition of green investments. If you care to help out with definitions and details on this matter or on others, find attached some jobs and as usual more on politjobs.eu!

Irina Michalowitz

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4. November 2019