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Inspiring People. Shaping the Future.

WASHINGTON, DC 1101 New York Avenue, NW Suite 901 Washington, DC 20005 USA Contact: Tyson Barker Contact: Tyson E-mail: tyson.barker@bertelsmanntyson.barker@bertelsmann- Tel: (+1) 202.384.1993 Tel:

BRUSSELS Résidence Palace Rue de la Loi 155 1040 Brussels, Belgium Contact: Thomas Fischer Contact: Thomas E-mail: E-mail: Tel: (+32 2) 280.2830 Tel:

EuroWire is a joint publication of the Bertelsmann Foundation offices in Washington, DC and Brussels. It connects Capitol Hill to European Union policy and politics and contributes to a common trans-Atlantic political culture. EuroWire is an occasional publication that highlights issues, legislation and policymakers relevant to the Congressional legislative cycle. This publication looks at the European Union from the point of view of Capitol Hill staffers and offers timely operational analysis.

Barroso II: What the First post-Lisbon Treaty European Commission means for Congress KEY POINTS • The new (undefined) powers allocated to Brussels by the Lisbon Treaty mean the personalities of the incoming EU leadership will be more important than ever. • The Commission will have a strong hand in setting a European position on financial regulation, climate change and home affairs including terrorism, migration and justice. • The assignment of portfolios reflects primarily the interests of big three member-states – the UK, France and Germany – and of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

After months of wrangling, Commission

its overall composition hints at a remarkable degree of

President Barroso announced in November


the members of the first post-Lisbon The announcement of the new European Commission

2014. Barroso’s Commission, however,

comes on the heels of the Lisbon Treaty’s passage

still needs confirmation by the European

by hold-outs Poland and the Czech Republic. The treaty

Parliament, and the vote is scheduled for

creates a President of the European Council (sometimes

January 26, 2010. The new Commission is

dubbed the “European President”) and a beefed-up High

due to assume office on February 1, 2010.

Representative for Foreign and Security Policy (a so-

While the Commission’s faces will change,

called “European Foreign Minister”).

ABOUT THE BERTELSMANN FOUNDATION: The Bertelsmann Foundation is a private, nonpartisan operating foundation, working to promote and strengthen trans-Atlantic cooperation. Serving as a platform for open dialogue among key stakeholders, the Foundation develops practical policy recommendations on issues central to successful development of both sides of the ocean. ©Copyright All rights rights reserved. reserved. ©Copyright 2009, 2010,Bertelsmann Bertelsmann Foundation. Foundation. All


Commission, which will be in power until

Inspiring People. Shaping the Future.

WASHINGTON, DC 1101 New York Avenue, NW Suite 901 Washington, DC 20005 USA Contact: Tyson Barker E-mail: Tel: (+1) 202.384.1993

For the US, Barroso II holds opportunities and challenges, many of which

BRUSSELS Résidence Palace Rue de la Loi 155 1040 Brussels, Belgium Contact: Thomas Fischer E-mail: Tel: (+32 2) 280.2830


will come to light only gradually. It will take months or perhaps years for the

ramifications of the Lisbon Treaty to become apparent. Nevertheless, the tea

of the European Council, speculation centered on

leaves are starting to emerge:

the candidacy of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In the run-up to the appointment of the President

The decision of European member-states to go with


Herman Van Rompuy, however, has led some to say

This powerhouse is absent from the roster of heavyweight portfolios. Many in

that the president will play a coordinating role rather

Brussels have speculated that the German government is forgoing a muscular

than a visionary one. Low-key consensus builder Van

portfolio to strengthen the case that the next president of the European

Rompuy is expected to be more of a logistical

Central Bank (ECB) should be a German, possibly current Bundesbank

convener than a political agenda-setter.

president Axel Weber.

…Except on Energy Security Former Baden-Württemberg Premier Günther Oettinger will be the new Commissioner for Energy. Formerly a relatively weak portfolio, the Energy assignment will be responsible for the creation of a common European energy market and could become a mitigating force in the bloc’s energy relationship with Russia. Of special interest to the US: Oettinger will join the US Departments of State and Energy in being a player on energy security in the newly established Energy Council.


©Copyright 2010, Bertelsmann Foundation. All rights reserved.


In addition to the aforementioned developments, the following incoming members of the European Inspiring People. Shaping the Future. Commission should be of interest to European observers in the US. Catherine Ashton (UK) Foreign Affairs High Representative The choice for Europe’s first foreign minister is the UK’s Catherine Ashton. Ashton will serve both as a vice president of the Commission and as high representative, a role previously occupied by Javier Solana. The double profile of the job includes an institutional affiliation with the Commission and the Council. As head of the 6,000 strong European-wide foreign service (officially known as the External Action Service), Ashton will represent the European Union as a whole and the member-states vis-à-vis the United States and other outside partners. Although no political neophyte, Ashton has not given much indication of the direction in which she wants to take European foreign policy on key issues of trans-Atlantic interest such as Iran and Afghanistan.

their previous low profiles. The roles that they develop in their new positions will largely determine the strength of the EU in Washington and on the world stage.

BRUSSELS WASHINGTON, DC Résidence Palace 1101 New York Avenue, NW Senior US Special Rue (such de la Loias155 Suite 901US administration officials 1040 Brussels, Belgium Washington, DC 20005 USA Representative Richard Holbrooke; Assistant Secretary Contact: Thomas Fischer Contact: Tyson Barker of State Philip Gordon and Under Secretary of State E-mail: tyson.barker@bertelsmann- E-mail: thomas.fischer@bertelsmannRobert Hormats) have recognized Ashton’s new role in the Tel: Tel: DC, (+32 2) 280.2830 system.(+1) No202.384.1993 stranger to Washington, Ashton made

numerous visits during her time as European Trade Commissioner, working closely with Trade Representative Ron Kirk on and in the Trans-Atlantic Economic Council (TEC), the body in which US cabinet level officials and EU Commissioners discuss regulatory convergence. Issues for Congress: Foreign and Security Policy, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Russia, the Middle East and Iran.

Washington’s initial reaction to Ashton’s (and Van Rompuy’s) appointment has been less than gushing. Some have described the duo as “anti-climactic” given

Connie Hedegaard (Denmark) Climate Action Hedegaard, Denmark’s former climate and energy minister, will become the EU’s leading negotiator on climate change. As such, Hedegaard, named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2009, will have the equivalent power of the US’s Todd Stern, but will carry great political influence in communicating the EU’s positions at home and abroad. On climate-change negotiation, the EU has the full weight of representing all its 27 member-states. The Dane currently has a highprofile position in the UNFCCC as president of the Copenhagen talks.

In a recent op-ed, Hedegaard struck a conciliatory note regarding President Obama’s graduated timetable for reduction in emissions targets below 1990 levels. She also emphasized longer-term targets for 2025 (18 percent reduction) and 2030 (32 percent reduction). Hedegaard will be responsible for discussions related to climatechange policy and adaptation finance. Issues for Congress: Carbon reduction and climatechange policy as it relates to third countries.

Karel De Gucht (Belgium) Trade commissioner will take over as TEC co-chair. Congress, in particular the Trans-Atlantic Legislators Dialogue (TLD), has a role in the TEC process and should see De Gucht as an ally in creating a more robust trans-Atlantic marketplace that involves legislative action on both sides of the ocean. Issues for Congress: Doha Negotiations, Trade and the TEC.

©Copyright 2010, Bertelsmann Foundation. All rights reserved.


De Gucht is seen as a free-market, freetrade-oriented politician. While Belgium has traditionally leaned more towards France and Italy in matters of trade, De Gucht usually sided with the UK in promoting economic openness during his tenure in the Belgian government. Still, his positions on Doha and agricultural subsidies are expected to be consistent with those of his predecessors. Additionally, this new trade


Inspiring On Economic Policy: It’s Yin andPeople. YangShaping the Future.

Perceived as more

Perceived as more

ATLANTICIST Joaquín Almunia (Spain) Competition Almunia, seen as a trusted ally of Commission President

Barroso, was given the weighty portfolio of competition. This

CONTINENTAL BRUSSELS WASHINGTON, DC Michel Barnier Résidence(France) Palace 1101 New York Avenue, NW de la Loi 155 Suite 901 Internal Rue Market 1040 Brussels, Belgium Washington, DC 20005 USA Barnier, a feisty former French Contact: Thomas Fischer Contact: Tyson Barker E-mail: tyson.barker@bertelsmannE-mail: will thomas.fischer@bertelsmannforeign minister, have responsibility for regulating Tel: (+1) 202.384.1993 Tel: (+32 2) 280.2830 European financial services as

portfolio will dovetail well with

Internal Market Commissioner. As

Spain’s emphasis on innovation during its EU presidency

such, Barnier will be the banking and financial regulatory czar of

in 2010. Almunia will be a key interlocutor with the Obama

the world’s largest financial center, the City of London.

administration as both sides lay out rules for multinational corporations, most of which are based in the US and Europe.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has already claimed Barnier’s

He will also be an important liaison as the US attempts to

appointment as a victory for France’s approach to banking

cooperate on competition and anti-trust issues with Europe.

regulation over the UK’s lighter touch. Barnier has sought to calm London’s worry that he will erode its competitive advantage

Almunia will be in charge of Europe’s anti-trust policy,

in the global financial marketplace. And the British have been

mitigating moves on mergers, acquisitions and adherence to

successful in guaranteeing that European member-states will

market rules. Importantly, Alumnia will also be responsible

have a say in checking the recommendations of Europe’s new

for examining direct and indirect public subsidies to foreign

sweeping supervisory bodies on financial regulation.

corporations that could distort competitiveness in the massive European marketplace. He will also play a role in determining

Barnier’s implementation of European banking and finance rules

when European banks pose systemic risk.

will have a direct effect on the US financial sector and should be closely watched as Congress moves forward with its own new

The Competition Commissioner will also be in charge of EU

financial-sector regulation.

policy towards Microsoft and enforcing the decision on the proposed merger of Oracle and Sun Microsystems.

Issues for Congress: Financial Regulation – hedge funds, credit default swaps, pensions, consumer credit and banking.

Issues for Congress: Anti-Trust and Competition, Stimulus and its effect on commerce and mergers and acquisitions.


©Copyright 2010, Bertelsmann Foundation. All rights reserved.


EuroWire - December 2009  

This issue of EuroWire focuses on the first post-Lisbon Treaty European Commission.