New EU Commissioner line-up unveiled

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European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has unveiled the names and portfolios for the next European commission top team.

All new Commissioners will be in position for the next five years but still need approval from the European Parliament before they can take up their posts.

The new Commissioner for Agriculture is Polish nominee Janusz Wojciechowski. Previously an MEP and vice chairman of the Parliament’s agriculture committee, he has worked on issues such as animal health, the environment and livestock farming, as well as food prices and labelling of organic foodstuffs. His biggest upcoming challenge will be to complete a reform of the CAP. Hoping to create “a long-term strategy” for European agriculture beyond 2050, he has said that he wants to focus on convergence – awarding more money to farmers who receive subsidies which are below the EU average. He has also said that he would like to give more to the development of small and medium-sized family farms as “otherwise European farming will get institutionalised too much.” The previous Commissioner for Agriculture, Irish nominee Phil Hogan, has been put forward as Commissioner for Trade. Commissioner Hogan has been involved in trade negotiations previously and has been very vocal on Brexit. In this role he will lead for the EU on a trade deal with the UK post Brexit. Frans Timmermans (the Netherlands), will fill one of the two positions as executive vice president and will coordinate the work on the European Green Deal. He will also manage climate action policy. The proposed Commissioner for Health (the department which leads on plant protection and animal health) is Cypriot nominee Stella Kyriakides, a clinical psychologist with many years of experience in the field of social affairs, health and cancer prevention. Virginijus Sinkevič, Lithuanian nominee and member of Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, has been proposed as commissioner for the Environment and Oceans.

Commission publishes another Brexit preparedness plan

The commission published another Brexit preparedness communication last week aimed at preparing EU stakeholders and businesses for a no deal Brexit at the end of October. The communication includes a checklist for companies doing business in the EU focusing on issues that should be considered if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement. Of most interest for agri stakeholders is the section on placing goods on the EU market which highlights the importance of understanding rules on issues such as labelling, customs procedures and sanitary and phytosanitary controls. The communication notes the increased risk that the UK will leave without a deal and reiterates that everyone should prepare for this possibility. It adds that stakeholders should not rely on the assumption that a third extension will be requested by the UK and that it will be agreed by the European Council.