New EU C’ssion team enshrines gender equality

Incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has named her choices for the European Union’s (EU’s) new top team.

Those on her list face some difficult challenges, including handling the UK’s exit from the 28-nation bloc and the fight against climate change.

If approved by the European Parliament, Mrs von der Leyen’s executive team will be the most gender-diverse in EU history, with 13 women and 14 men.

There is no UK nominee, as Brexit is currently scheduled for October 31.

That exit date is the day before the new Commission takes office. Members of European Parliament (MEPs) will hold confirmation hearings for each nominee.

Based in Brussels, the Commission is in charge of enforcing EU rules and the bloc’s treaties. It is the only EU body that can draft laws.

Mrs von der Leyen, Germany’s former defence minister, will officially replace Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on November 1.

The new executive team of 27 – one for each member state – is planned to be in place for five years.

BBC reporter Adam Fleming says the appointments are considered hugely significant in Brussels – akin to the Oscars film awards – with national pride at stake.

Mrs von der Leyen’s list features some new posts within the Commission, but who are the key players?

In his current role as EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, the former Irish government minister has criticised the UK government’s attitude during Brexit negotiations and what he has called the “tough guy approach” of some “Brexiteers”.

Mr Hogan described what he said was Britain’s poor grasp of the importance of the Ireland-Northern Ireland border issue as “disheartening”.

He has warned the UK that it faces “a huge gap between hope and experience” when it begins operating its own trade policy.

Earlier this year, the 59-year-old warned plans published by the UK government for tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit were an attempt “to break EU unity” over the Irish border issue.

On Tuesday, Mrs von der Leyen described Mr Hogan as an “excellent” negotiator, adding that he will be “very fair but determined”.

Known to be extremely careful about what he does and does not say, the current EU Commission spokesman and member of Greece’s ruling centre-right party New Democracy has been outspoken about Brexit. -BBC

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