Kadri Simson (Centre), appointed Estonia's new European Commissioner last month, is to meet with the commission's outgoing president, Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday, with the aim of hammering out her start date in the new role.
Juncker had previously opposed appointing short-term commissioners, a role with a normal term of five years, but faced opposition both from the Estonian government, and from the Council of the EU.
Outgoing Estonian commissioner Andrus Ansip (Reform) was due to stay in the role until October – the same month when Juncker will be stepping down. However, since Ansip won an MEP seat at the May 26 European elections, he faced a choice between the two roles; had he hung on to October in the commissioner post, his seat would have had to have gone to the next Reform Party candidate on the list entered at the elections, most likely Taavi Rõivas.
"This meeting is necessary for me to find out what the commission president sees as my future roll at the commission," Simson told ERR's online news in Estonian Wednesday.
"For my part, I affirm that, whatever he may have in mind, I am ready to vote myself to, as I have done with all my duties so far," she continued.
Simson's position needs to be clarified by next week, since the newly-elected European Parliament then goes on summer recess until September. Both Simson's candidacy and that of another proposed commissioner, Mircea Pașcu of Romania, must be presented before the parliament for ratification.
Simson also told ERR that since she had been appointed by the Estonian government for the role anyway, i.e. starting in October, she did not think that Juncker's opposition to temporary candidates applied in her case, instead being aimed at those who were truly temporary, and filled the role for just a few months. She noted that Juncker had made this clear in an interview with Politico and that she was simply ready to start the new job ahead of schedule.
"It is clear that the commission in office today is no longer working on any new initiatives. However, this commission has brought up a number of issues which do not end with the current makeup, but continue into the future," Simson said, looking ahead to her future work should she take up the post as expected.
"I also find it important for Estonia that our commisioner be present when we are discussing the longer-term perspective and vision. I will find out if President Juncker is develop a direct portfolio for this temporary period tomorrow," she added.
Each EU member state appoints a commissioner, who is then given a specific portfolio. Ansip's had been the digital single market. Simson would be the third commissioner from Estonia, after Ansip and Siim Kallas. Additionally, her appointment was seen by many as necessary to fulfill EU gender quotas.
Simson also added that her staff in Brussels had not been finalized, as she had not had confirmation of the portfolio yet.
Jean-Claude Juncker steps down from his role on Oct. 31. He is to be replaced by German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU).
Editor: Andrew Whyte