The countdown is on. Jean-Claude Juncker, the incoming European Commission president, is due to present his new team early next week. The wrangling over the most important jobs in Brussels is entering its final stages – and tensions behind the scenes are growing.
Above all, there is said to be unease over the future portfolio of Germany’s current commissioner, Günther Oettinger, currently in charge of energy. Mr. Juncker is reported to be offering the German the digital agenda job, a high ranking E.U. diplomat told Handelsblatt on condition of anonymity. However, the offer has not been warmly greeted by Mr. Oettinger. The holder of the Internet post is not exactly regarded as a political heavyweight in Brussels.
Oettinger knows that — which is why he is pushing for a more important dossier: trade. However, up to now, Mr. Juncker has shown little sign of wanting to consider this request, according to sources in Brussels. The final decision about Oettinger’s new job is expected to be made this weekend.
The jockeying for position is going a bit better for France. Pierre Moscovici, the former French finance minister, is pushing for the economics and monetary affairs portfolio – and his chances have been regarded as good. Germany has voiced reservations about appointing someone from France to this sensitive post. However, these objections are not said to have made much of an impression on Mr. Juncker. The Berlin government has pointed out that for years the French have failed to keep to the bloc’s strict budget rules as agreed in the Stability Pact. The Germans object to a Frenchman of all things now being in charge of these very rules.