EU parliament approves new European Commission


The European Parliament has approved the President-designate Jean-Claude Juncker’s new European Commission, which is scheduled to take office on November 1.

Juncker’s 27 commissioners won a strong majority, receiving the backing of 423 members of the European Parliament, with 209 voting against the nominees and 67 abstaining.

Juncker suffered a setback earlier this month when former Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek pulled out as nominee for the post of vice president for energy union. Bratusek resigned following a grueling confirmation hearing in which she faced harsh criticism from MEPs for her perceived lack of knowledge about the European Union’s energy market. Juncker ultimately named Slovakia’s Maros Sefcovic for the energy union post.

While Miguel Arias Cañete, former Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, was confirmed as commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, he too faced tough questing during confirmation hearings about his ties to the oil industry.

Current European Vice President and Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, meanwhile, will now serve as commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

In his speech before the European Parliament on Wednesday, Juncker said it was time for action.

"From Ukraine to Syria, to the Middle East and North Africa, our neighborhood remains shaky and unstable," Juncker said, citing the scores of immigrants arriving in Europe in search of better lives as well as the Ebola epidemic that has "seized citizens with an understandable degree of fear."

"We cannot and will not sweep these mounting problems under the carpet. We cannot and will not turn a blind eye. That is why I insist that the time for European action is now."

Among the Juncker Commission’s first legislative initiatives will be energy union.

"Every day, Europe is losing out by not unlocking the great potential of our huge digital single market. Jobs that should be there are not being created. Ideas – the DNA of Europe’s economy! – do not materialize to the extent they should. Let us change this for the better. In tomorrow’s increasingly competitive world, Europe will only be able to thrive if we get it right on energy union."