When Jean-Claude Junker announced the distribution of the responsibilities in his Commission on Wednesday 10 September 2014 he decided to group the Commissioners into a number of clusters which he called project teams led as follows:
Frans Timmermans (NL), the First Vice President will deal with Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental Freedoms. He will oversee the Project on Home Affairs and Justice in addition to being Juncker’s Deputy.
Federica Mogherini (IT) the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy will oversee a Project Team dealing with Enlargement, Development, Humanitarian Aid and Trade
Andrus Ansip (ET) will be the Vice President leading the project on the Digital Single Market.
Alenka Bratusek (SL) will be the Vice President leading the Energy Union project whilst Vladis Dombrovskis (LT) will as Vice president lead the project on the Euro and Social Dialogue.
Jyrki Katainen (FI) will lead the project on Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Project whilst Kristalina Georgieva (BG) will head the EU Budget and Human Resources Project.
These clusters or projects will bring together Commissioners responsible for specific areas such that there is coordination and purpose in the work of the Commission. Whilst the treaties provide for such a horizontal structure this is the first time that it is being tried. If it succeeds it will become the new template and it will settle once and for all the debate on the size of the Commission.
There is however one missing cluster: a cluster dealing with Sustainable Development. This point has been emphasised by the international NGO World Wildlife Fund in its comments about Juncker’s Commission.
The EU Sustainable Development Strategy is by its very nature a well defined cluster of priorities which identified seven key priority challenges many of which are predominantly environmental.
Yet the Juncker Commission has ignored all this and grouped together the Environment with Fisheries and Maritime Policy, in the process downgrading the importance of all three areas of policy.
Jean Claude Junker needs the approval of the EU Parliament to implement this plan. From the various statements being made it seems that some MEPs do not have the intention of giving this stamp of approval as they consider that the Environment on the one hand and Fisheries and Maritime Affairs on the other hand each require a separate Commissioner to be dealt with appropriately. The same goes for Energy and Climate Change which likewise have been assigned as responsibilities of one Commissioner instead of two separate Commissioners.
Its fine for the President-elect of the EU Commission to encourage the development of the Green Economy and the Blue Economy as he has emphasised in the mission letter to Commissioner-designate Karmenu Vella. This will not however be achieved sidelining sustainable development, nor by relegating the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Policy to a second class status within the Commission.