Following his election as head of the Netherland’s combined list of Socialists (PvdA) and Greens (GroenLinks), European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans has submitted his resignation as an EC member. Maroš Šefčovič will replace him until the Dutch Government suggests a new candidate.
Members of both parties voted with a strong majority for Timmermans to lead the troops in the upcoming Dutch elections in November. Some 91.8 per cent of members of both parties voted in favour of the now former European “Green Pope”.
Because of his domestic ambitions, Timmermans submitted his resignation as a member of the EC. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen expressed her gratitude to him “for his many years of successful work for the Commission and the European citizens” and accepted his resignation with immediate effect.
Von der Leyen decided to assign his role of Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal to another EC Vice-President, Maroš Šefčovič. She also decided to temporarily assign the portfolio responsibility for Climate Action Policy to Šefčovič until the appointment of a new EC member of Dutch nationality.
“I thank Frans Timmermans for his passionate and tireless work to make the European green deal a reality. He has been a key member of my College of Commissioners,” von der Leyen said. “Thanks to his excellent contribution and strong personal engagement, we have made great strides towards meeting the European Union’s objectives to become the first climate-neutral continent and towards raising the levels of climate ambition globally.
“Frans Timmermans’ contribution to the work of the Commission and to the European project goes beyond the European Green Deal. He has contributed to shaping many of the Commission’s initiatives, in a true collegial style,” she added.
Von der Leyen also sent a formal letter to the acting Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, including a request to suggest names of a female and a male candidate for a new Commissioner of Dutch nationality.
Šefčovič is a Slovak diplomat and socialist politician, serving as the EC Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations since 2019. Von der Leyen called him “one of the most senior and experienced members of my college”. He will now be in charge of bringing the European Green Deal forward.
He was also a candidate for the 2019 Slovak presidential campaign. There he defended positions that many considered conservative regarding LGBTQ+1 issues. He even cited concerns about what he termed “gender ideology”.
On migration, he has emphasised the importance of a speedy deportation policy so that “people who do not have any business here are sent to their home countries as quickly as possible”.
Šefčovič rejects the idea of EU federalisation, saying he is “against creating a European superstate” and considers tax policy, autonomous migration policy and family law issues to be “red lines” that should not be crossed by the EU.
The election of Timmermans by both parties was a formality as he was the only candidate but the endorsement proves at least that the members fully support him.
It is unclear how the division of the vote between the Socialists and Greens went as voting was done in secret. Members have until 2pm on August 23 to object.
Timmermans will address the members of both parties on August 22 in The Hague, which will also be broadcast via a live stream.
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, is facing heat in Holland as he is accused of planning to “campaign on the European taxpayers’ dime” when he steps down. https://t.co/M11UpGHIoM
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 18, 2023