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Britain Handed Climate And Energy Portfolio In Draft Juncker Commission Line-Up


The UK could miss out on its desired economics portfolio in Jean-Claude’s Juncker’s new European Commission, instead being handed responsibility for the EU’s energy and climate change policies. The decision, if ultimately confirmed, could push the UK closer to leaving the EU.

Juncker will rebuff Prime Minster David Cameron, who has lobbied hard for Jonathan Hill to be given an economics job, according to a draft European Commission line up, seen by EurActiv.

The document is clearly not a final version and subject to change. Some jobs, such as internal market commissioner, are missing. While that post could be abolished or combined with other jobs, there are other different versions of the leak circulating in Brussels.

Finland’s Jyrki Katainen is penciled in as commissioner for economic and monetary affairs. France’s Pierre Moscovici, also put forward for the position, will get the influential competition portfolio instead.

Other posts with economic elements such as taxation, customs and fraud will go elsewhere, according to the draft. While the UK would have accepted trade, that will go to Germany’s Günther Oettinger, Hill’s predecessor on energy, instead.

The decision, if ultimately confirmed, could push the UK closer to leaving the EU. It would be seized on by Cameron’s Eurosceptic and pro-EU rivals as further evidence of the PM’s inability to influence Brussels decision-making.

Is it enough?

Juncker is mulling combining energy and climate change, previously two separate portfolios, in a bid to bolster the job’s importance and profile. But unlike Oettinger, Hill will not be a vice-president in Juncker’s new team.

Cameron met Juncker in Brussels as recently as last week and, according to a UK government press release, stressed again that Hill should get an economics job

Energy is likely to be central in the EU’s response to Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Whether that will be enough to placate Cameron is unknown.

The EU needs to reduce its dependence on Russian gas before it can take a stronger position against Russian aggression towards Ukraine.

But critics will point to the appointment of Latvia’s Valdis Dombrovskis as commission vice-president for energy union and Federica Mogherini as EU foreign affairs chief as signs Hill will not have sole authority.

Climate change commissioner was a new post created in 2010 after being split from the environmental portfolio.

While the EU has led international efforts to secure a climate agreement in the past, its stock has recently fallen on the global stage. The EU and China are now making the running in global negotiations.

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