Appointments and tasks of Hoekstra and Šefčovič on EU agenda

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra delivers a joint press conference with his French and Romanian counterparts in Bucharest, Romania, on January 27, 2023. (Photo by Andrei Pungovschi / AFP)

The hearings on the appointment of former Dutch minister Wopke Hoekstra and the shift of the Green Deal responsibilities to Slovak European Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič will be held in Strasbourg on October 2 and 3. 

The hearings are organized by the Envi Environment Committee. The Industry, Foreign Affairs and Development committees will also participate in Hoekstra's hearing on October 2, while the Industry, Transport and Agriculture committees will participate in Šefčovič's hearing on October 3.

The Christian Democrat Hoekstra has been nominated as commissioner for the climate portfolio by committee chairman Ursula von der Leyen. The Dutch politician has been Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the past two years, and before that Minister of Finance for five years.

Social Democrat Šefčovič, who is already First Vice-President of the Commission, would take responsibility for the European Green Deal, in addition to his current tasks in interinstitutional relations and foresight. The reshuffle follows the departure of Frans Timmermans to stand as a candidate for the Dutch parliamentary elections that will take place in November.

The appointment of Hoekstra as the new EU Commissioner for Climate Protection is not only causing resistance in the Netherlands because he has not built up any green or environmentally friendly profile in recent years. There are also voices in the European Parliament that, as a former staff member of Shell and McKinsey, he was not exactly a climate enthusiast.

From written questions submitted in advance, it is clear that the Greens, United Left and the S&D Social Democrats in particular question Hoekstra extensively, not only on his Climate Vision but also on biodiversity, global warming and the reduction of greenhouse gases. To be successful

To get through that hearing, Hoekstra needs the support of a two-thirds majority of the organizing envi committee. If several faction leaders 'withhold' their votes there, a follow-up hearing may possibly be held.

According to the current schedule, the full European Parliament will vote on the appointments and tasks of Hoekstra and Šefčovič on Thursday, October 5. A simple majority is sufficient for those nominations by Von der Leyen. The European Parliament cannot reject a nomination, but can only - if necessary - send the entire Commission home.