Slovenia's EU commissioner-designate given crisis management portfolio

Brussels, 10 September - Janez Lenarčič, the Slovenian EU commissioner-designate, was assigned the portfolio of crisis management in the next European Commission, as President-elect Ursula von der Leyen announced the distribution of posts in Brussels on Tuesday.

Janez Lenarčič, the Slovenian EU commissioner-designate.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
File photo

The job assigned to Lenarčič would correspond to the portfolio of humanitarian aid and crisis management in the outgoing commission, which has been the responsibility of Cypriot Hristos Stilianides.

Crisis management is a significant but demanding field of the EU's work, involving the saving of lives and helping people in need, Lenarčič, so far Slovenia's ambassador to the EU, said in his first reaction.

The department he will head is in charge of European civil protection and humanitarian aid, as part of which Lenarčič will have the role of the European coordinator for rapid response. He will be supported by the directorate general for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

"The number of people in need of help keeps increasing world-wide due to the consequences of ever more dramatic climate change and violent conflicts," Lenarčič said in a written statement, adding that growing humanitarian needs should be matched by proper and effectively applied funding.

He believes that the portfolio he was entrusted with addresses a vital part of the EU's response to topical global challenges, which call for sustainable, coordinated and innovative action by the EU and member countries. It is important to provide fast and efficient aid and secure sufficient capabilities to protect people, the environment and property.

Lenarčič says he is aware of the challenge awaiting him that will involve boosted cooperation between countries in preventive activities as well as response to natural and other disasters. "Coordination at the EU level, between member countries and wider is of essence," he says.

Lenarčič understands the portfolio assignment as an acknowledgement of Slovenia's "strong tradition in providing humanitarian aid and civil protection".

The College of Commissioners for 2019-2024 will have eight vice-presidents, including three executive vice-presidents: Frans Timmermans will be responsible for European Green Deal, Dane Margrethe Vestager for digital age and Latvia's Valdis Dombrokvskis "economy that works for people".

All three executive vice presidents will also be commissioners; Timmermans will be in charge of climate action, Vestager will continue as competition commissioner and Dombrovskis will be responsible for financial services.

The other vice presidents are Spaniard Josep Borrell, who will also serve as the EU's foreign policy chief; Vera Jourova from the Czech Republic will serve as commissioner for values and transparency, Greek Margaritis Schinas will be responsible for protecting European way of life, Slovak Maroš Šefčovič will be in charge of inter-institutional relations and foresight, and Croat Dubravka Šuica will be responsible for democracy and demography.

Sylvie Goulard from France was assigned the internal market portfolio, Hungarian Laszlo Trocsanyi the neighbourhood and enlargement portfolio, Ireland's Phil Hogan will be in charge of trade and Italy's Paolo Gentiloni will be the economy commissioner.

The commissioners-designate will undergo hearings before the European Parliamentary committees between 30 September and 8 October, after which the plenary is to take a vote on the line-up as a whole at a session running between 21 and 24 October.

Lenarčič said he would use his time over the next few weeks to prepare thoroughly for the hearing.

Five years ago, Slovenia's original commissioner nominee Alenka Bratušek failed to pass the committee hearing, so she withdrew her bid. The government then nominated Violeta Bulc, who went on to become transport commissioner.

© STA, 2019