Europe

Juncker gives key EU economy jobs to UK and France

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Media captionJean-Claude Juncker says he would like the UK to remain a member of the EU

The UK will oversee financial services in the new 28-strong European Commission - a surprise move that delighted the UK's PM David Cameron.

The job goes to Jonathan Hill, former leader of the House of Lords.

France also got a powerful post - ex-Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, a socialist, will run EU economic policy.

There has been intense national rivalry over the top jobs. There are seven vice-presidents for key areas such as growth, better regulation and energy.

Three of the seven powerful new posts have gone to women.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the details, saying the new team was "geared to give Europe its new start".

Levers of power

The team includes five former prime ministers, four deputy prime ministers and seven returning commissioners, appointed for a new five-year term.

The Commission is seen as the most powerful EU institution, as it drafts EU laws, ensures compliance with EU treaties and negotiates far-reaching trade deals with international partners.

It is the target of much hostility from Eurosceptics, who accuse Brussels of wasting taxpayers' money and creating too many regulations, handicapping businesses.

EU officials say that having a detailed common rulebook, enforceable EU-wide, helps the single market by reducing national barriers.

Image caption Lord Hill has been influential at Westminster but is little known in the EU

On the appointment of Lord Hill, Mr Cameron said during a trip to Edinburgh "I think that is a great piece of news because 40% of Europe's financial services industry is in the United Kingdom, a lot of it here in Scotland.

"And I think it would be great for the United Kingdom to have someone right at the heart of the European Commission, the European Union, making sure that financial services industries... can go from strength to strength."

The City of London dominates financial services in the EU, despite the UK being outside the euro. The appointment of Lord Hill is likely to please the City, as the UK pushes for far-reaching reforms in Brussels.

Lord Hill said "there is much work to do... to ensure we have stable and well-regulated financial markets".

His job could help anchor the UK in the EU ahead of a UK in/out referendum on membership, which Mr Cameron says will take place in 2017 if the Conservatives are re-elected.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption France's Pierre Moscovici will also run EU taxation and customs affairs

Chris Morris, Brussels correspondent:

Prime Minister David Cameron had campaigned hard for Lord Hill to be given a top economic job on the new Commission. In financial services he has one - it's a role which will involve the supervision of banks, and other matters that affect the City of London.

For a country outside the euro to have a commissioner at the heart of financial affairs will provide reassurance, that the eurozone understands the need to take into account the concerns of member states that use other currencies.

Mr Cameron had been very open in his opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker taking over the Presidency of the Commission. This appointment suggests that while Mr Juncker may not have forgotten British hostility, he is prepared to put that to one side, and to try to work constructively together.


Mr Juncker, who served for many years as Luxembourg prime minister, said his choices were aimed at "breaking down silos and moving away from static structures".

He told the BBC that Britain's role in the EU was "very important" and "I do want Britain to stay as an active constructive member".

"I don't want to see Britain leave. We would lose all the virtues Britain is representing. So I decided to give a major portfolio to Lord Hill."

One of the new vice-presidents is the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini from Italy. She already has the approval of member states.

The seven new "project vice-presidents" will co-ordinate key policy areas.

But Frans Timmermans from the Netherlands "will be my right-hand man, more than just a colleague", Mr Juncker said.

Mr Timmermans would ensure that each Commission proposal was "truly required" and monitor compliance with EU rules and values, he said.

"We'll be big hitters when we need to be big hitters but we'll hold back when we're talking about minor issues."

Each country has a commissioner, but the EU tradition is for them to work in the interests of Europe as a whole, not to pursue national agendas.

The new Commission should take office in early November. It will replace the Commission of Jose Manuel Barroso.



Mr Juncker appeared to reach out to centre-left politicians by combining the euro and social dialogue in one portfolio, under Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis from Latvia.

"The euro and monetary union must be seen as not being merely about numbers - there's a social dimension to it," Mr Juncker said.

Critics say the Commission's eurozone policy has been too focused on cutting deficits and not enough on encouraging growth.

Finland's ex-Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen will co-ordinate policies on jobs, investment and competitiveness.

And Elzbieta Bienkowska of Poland has a powerful post, taking charge of the internal market with a special focus on small businesses.

Poland already has a key new job in the EU power structure, as ex-PM Donald Tusk will be European Council President.

On 29 September the European Parliament will begin hearings, questioning each nominee in turn. The MEPs' approval is required for the new Commission to take office.

Seven commissioners were nominated for a second five-year term, including: Kristalina Georgieva (Bulgaria), Johannes Hahn (Austria), Cecilia Malmstroem (Sweden), Guenther Oettinger (Germany) and Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia).

Mr Juncker, a veteran centre-right politician experienced in Brussels deal-making, was given overwhelming backing from government leaders. The UK and Hungary voted against him.

Structure of the European Commission

Vytenis Andriukaitis (Lithuania) Health and food safety

Miguel Arias Canete (Spain) Climate action and energy

Dimitris Avramopoulos (Greece) Migration and home affairs

Elzbieta Bienkowska (Poland) Internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs (small and medium-sized businesses)

Corina Cretu (Romania) Regional policy

Johannes Hahn (Austria) European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations

Jonathan Hill (UK) Financial stability, financial services and capital markets union

Phil Hogan (Ireland) Agriculture and rural development

Vera Jourova (Czech Republic) Justice, consumers and gender equality

Cecilia Malmstroem (Sweden) Trade

Neven Mimica (Croatia) International co-operation and development

Carlos Moedas (Portugal) Research, science and innovation

Pierre Moscovici (France) Economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs

Tibor Navracsics (Hungary) Education, culture, youth and citizenship

Guenther Oettinger (Germany) Digital economy and society

Maros Sefcovic (Slovakia) Transport and space

Christos Stylianides (Cyprus) Humanitarian aid and crisis management

Marianne Thyssen (Belgium) Employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility

Karmenu Vella (Malta) Environment, maritime affairs and fisheries

Margrethe Vestager (Denmark) Competition

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