Government backs Kadri Simson as next European Commissioner

Kadri Simson.
Kadri Simson. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

The coalition government has approved Kadri Simson's (Centre) nomination as Estonia's next European Commissioner, following a proposal from party leader and prime minister Jüri Ratas on Wednesday.

The Centre Party's board also endorsed Simson's candidacy on Wednesday.

Simson, a former economic affairs minister, is being put forward both for the full five-year terms starting in October, and the interim term made necessary by current incumbent Andrus Ansip (Reform) winning an MEP seat at the May 26 European elections. Should Ansip take up the MEP role, he would have to vacate the commissioner seat early.

The government has requested the board of the Riigikogu present Simson as candidate before parliament on June 12.

Each EU member state sends a commissioner, who is allotted a specific portfolio. Ansip's portfolio was the digital single market, but it is not clear what Simson's, should she be nominated, portfolio might be, or who would be in her office at the commission.

Extra impetus for the next Estonian commissioner nominee to be for the full term comes from the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, who has stated opposition to having temporary commissioners. At the same time, the position could be left empty until November when the full term is scheduled to begin.

Juncker told German daily Bild that a temporary commissioner would cost taxpayers a million euros, which would be hard to justify to citizens. The workload of the commission could easily be shared by the remaining commissioners in the interim period, Juncker said.

Commissioners are generally appointed by the government, so tend to be from one of the coalition parties. Estonia's previous two commissioners, Ansip and Siim Kallas, were both from the Reform Party at a time when it was in office. As a woman, Kadri Simson's candidacy is even more relevant, in order to meet EU gender balance regulations.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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