Croatia has become the latest EU member state to propose a commissioner for the new executive when it starts its new, five-year term in the autumn.
On Wednesday, the country’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced that he will put forward MEP Dubravka Šuica as its next EU commissioner. Šuica is currently a vice chair of the European People’s Party group in parliament. She is also a former mayor of Dubrovnik.
The current college of commissioners team, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, remains in office until the end of October but some governments have already announced their candidates for the next term which will be led by former German defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen.
One of the questions surrounding the future commission is whether von der Leyen will be able to achieve her much-vaunted ambition of including an equal number of men and women in the college.
The target is to have 13 female commissioners, including von der Leyen herself. So far, eight countries have nominated women: Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Bulgaria, Malta, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Croatia. To achieve her unofficial “quota” von der Leyen still needs four more female nominees.
Von der Leyen has spent the last few days holding informal talks in Brussels with some of the nominees. It is still possible that, if she is dissatisfied with a particular nominee, she could ask one country or another to send her a new name.
Such a move is not without precedence with Juncker rejecting no less than six commissioner candidates before he took office in 2014.
“The target is to have 13 female commissioners, including von der Leyen herself. So far, eight countries have nominated women”
No decisions have yet been taken on the distribution of portfolios and every nominee will need the approval of von der Leyen, the president-elect, and the European Parliament.
It is widely expected that, as in the past, MEPs may object to some of the nominations.
Speaking in parliament in Strasbourg in July, von der Leyen said, “If the member states do not propose enough female commissioners, I will not hesitate to ask for new names. Since 1958, there have been 183 commissioners. Only 35 were women. That is less than 20 per cent. We represent half of our population. We want our fair share,” she warned.
Von der Leyen is the first ever woman to lead the European Commission.
European Green Party co-chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni said, "The challenge will be putting together a gender balanced Commission. We are fully willing to support Ms von der Leyen on that."
S&D group leader Iratxe García said she was “glad to see that regarding gender issues, we are on the same page” (as von der Leyen) and setting quotas in von der Leyen’s Commission “is a very good start.”
Greens/EFA co-leader Philippe Lamberts praised von der Leyen’s commitment “in moving towards parity between men and women.”
“No decisions have yet been taken on the distribution of portfolios and every nominee will need the approval of von der Leyen, the president-elect, and the European Parliament”
Apart from von der Leyen, though, so far just one of Europe’s top jobs which has become vacant this summer has been allocated to a woman: Christine Lagarde was chosen as the new head of the European Central Bank.
The nominee as European Council president is Charles Michel, the Belgian Prime Minister, while Josep Borrell, a former president of the European Parliament, is set to be the EU’s next Foreign Affairs chief`.
The current EU commissioners who are due to return for another term are: Valdis Dombrovskis, Latvia, European People's Party (EPP); Mariya Gabriel, Bulgaria, EPP; Johannes Hahn, Austria, EPP; Phil Hogan, Ireland, EPP; Věra Jourová, Czech Republic, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE); Maroš Šefčovič, Slovakia, Party of European Socialists (PES); Frans Timmermans, Netherlands, PES and Margrethe Vestager, Denmark, ALDE.
New nominees are: Josep Borrell, Spain, PES; Helena Dalli, Malta, PES; Stella Kyriakides, Cyprus, EPP; Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia, unaffiliated; Margaritis Schinas, Greece, EPP; Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourg, PES; Kadri Simson, Estonia, ALDE; Krzysztof Szczerski, Poland, European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR); László Trócsányi, Hungary, EPP; Jutta Urpilainen, Finland, PES, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Lithuania, Greens, Ylva Johansson, Sweden, S&D and Dubravka Šuica, Croatia, EPP.
Romania has nominated two people, both Socialist MEPs. They are Rovana Plumb, a former EU funds minister, and Dan Nica, a former communications minister.
Von der Leyen asked all member states to each submit two nominees but few have complied with this request. The UK says it will not nominate anyone as it is due to leave the EU on 31 October.
Countries yet to nominate anyone are Belgium, France, Portugal and Italy.