Kadri Simson remains sole European Commission nominee, says prime minister

Kadri Simson meeting outgoing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday, after which she confirmed her candidacy would be confirmed before the European Parliament next week. Source: European Commission

The Estonian government will press on with presenting just the one candidate as incoming European Commissioner, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said at the regular Thursday morning government press conference, Baltic News Service reports.

Kadri Simson (Centre) was chosen as candidate, replacing Andrus Ansip (Reform), in June, and formally presented as such by the government in a letter to the European Commission earlier this week.

Simson's candidacy has been hampered somewhat by questions concerning her eligibility as a temporary candidate, at least until October, since Ansip wishes to step down ahead of the official end of his tenure in order not to miss out on the MEP seat he won at the May 26 European elections.

Outgoing commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, had previously noted his disapproval of temporary appointees; as well as Estonia, Romania had made a similar request. However, Simson, who met with Juncker in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the situation, said Wednesday that she thought this wouldn't be an issue in her case, since she would intend to stay on for the full five-year stint after October.

Following the Juncker-Simson meeting, the latter said that she would be confirmed in her candidacy by the European Parliament next week, though she did not know what her portfolio would be. She had previously said she would not be able to assemble a team of staff for the role until she knew which portfolio of those assigned to each member state's commissioner would be. Ansip's portfolio was the digital single market.

At the same time, German foreign minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), who has been appointed to replace Juncker as commission president in October, told a meeting of representatives of European Parliamentary group Renew Europe (formerly ALDE) that she would like each country to put up two candidates, one male and one female, in the interest of gender balance.

However, Ratas said that Estonia would be sticking to its guns in simply presenting Simson alone as the next commissioner.

"We do not have a single official letter expressing a desire to have two candidates," Ratas said at the press conference, in response to a question on the issue.

"We have nominated one candidate and we will stick with that," he added.

"We don't know if any further desire will emerge [from the candidate as next commission president] for two, three or four candidates," Ratas said.

Estonian Renew Europe MEP Yana Toom (Centre) had also voiced her disapproval of the male/female dual candidates requirement touted by von der Leyen. Toom was chosen as new vice chair of the European Parliament's committee on petitions on Wednesday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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