Von der Leyen Nominates Hoekstra. News and Expectations

Politics - November 25, 2023

After Frans Timmermans’ announced his resignation from the European Union, the process to fill his remaining vacant role is wide open. The role of the now-former commissioner’s successor has important political and strategic significance, considering the weight of the dossiers Timmermans has pursued over time.

Almost at the end of the summer, despite the palace closures, important news arrived about the next candidate: Wopke Hoekstra.

Hoekstra, the outgoing foreign minister of the Netherlands, has also been given the green light by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who will therefore put her name forward to the EU Parliament and Council. Hoekstra was first nominated by the Dutch government, and as of now appears to be the suitable candidate to lead the Eu on its green transition process.

As usual, according to the Eu procedures, before being formally appointed, Hoekstra will have to pass a hearing in the Eu Parliament attended by one or more of the parliamentary committees responsible for the portfolio.

Following the meeting between Hoekstra and von der Leyen, the president of EU Commission said the Dutch candidate has shown strong motivation and commitment to the European Union, also underlining how his government experience will be able to add value to European policy.

Hoekstra is known for being a member of the Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) party and in Brussels he is a member of the European People’s Party, EPP. This has raised questions about her suitability for the role, especially from a certain political wing.

In fact, for the first time ever the European climate and environment agenda would be the responsibility of a right-wing politician, which some believe could not be a good thing. Although this preconception is not clear on what factual basis it may rest.

According to reports by Ursula von der Leyen, Hoekstra should be at the helm of European environmental policy while still remaining under the leadership of Socialist Maroš Šefčovič, who as of today is full-fledged Timmermans’ replacement, albeit for a fixed period.

The decision, therefore, that the Commission President would appear to have taken is to divide up the competencies that were previously all in Timmermans’ hands.

Indeed, the former Dutch commissioner, who had taken on the role of executive vice president for the Green Deal, was in charge of both the implementation of the ‘Green Pact for Europe’ (the economic growth strategy to make the European continent climate neutral by 2050) and climate action.

Two priorities on which two different political personalities will reportedly go to work separately, albeit complementarily.

The path leading to the appointment of the person in charge, or persons in charge, of environmental policy within the European Union is expected to be all uphill and not without twists and turns. Nevertheless, the choice of Eu commission chairperson bodes well for a European future that is more conservative and less tyrannical in terms of the goals to be achieved, often unreasonably and in ways that are not suitable for society as a whole.

Hoekstra’s appointment appears to be a step forward in achieving a Europe that is more attentive to its citizens and their needs, so that we have a Europe that does not want at all costs to pursue policies that poorly match the context in which they fit, but is more focused on working to make the context truly fit and ready to accommodate that green transition that has long been talked about.

Handing over the environmental policy portfolio to a nonleftist political figure for the first time should be understood as a success. Should this possibility come to fruition in practice, it will surely be a first step toward a success for the European right, which will also be facilitated in winning the European parliament. If the environmental policy agenda is managed by a conservative, we will finally see concrete and sustainable results for the entire social set-up and will impart a change of pace in the management of Eu policies in other areas as well. We are keeping our fingers crossed for what it promises to be a hot autumn.