How catholic will the new eu commission be??

How catholic will the new eu commission be??

Brexit, climate crisis and an outdated asylum system: there are plenty of challenges for the new EU Commission chief. On Monday, she approved the list of candidates for her team – including some Catholics.

The summer break is over. Ursula von der Leyen had no time for beaches or mountains. She tinkered with the structure for her new EU Commission. How many vice presidents should there be? Which portfolio fits which commission candidate? Are women and men equally represented? Is there a balance between Eastern and Western Europeans?

The list of criteria for the new Commission is long. Almost every member state had expressed wishes or preferences. Now the puzzle is complete.

Religion plays no role in filling positions. Decisions are made based on arguments, facts and sometimes values. Ursula von der Leyen is Protestant. She is familiar with Christian values. Older people in Brussels still remember how von der Leyen visited the German Protestant congregation on Sundays when she was young.

Some professing Christians

Among the candidates for the commission are also some professing Christians. Italy's ex-prime minister Paolo Gentiloni (64) attended a Montessori school and enjoyed a Catholic education with the catechist Agnese Moro, daughter of politician Aldo Moro. Danish pastor's daughter Margrethe Vestager (51) grew up in a Protestant parsonage household. Competition commissioner under Jean-Claude Juncker since 2014, she is to be given a vice president role in the new commission. This means a little more impact than a simple commissioner.

In the European elections, Vestager, like the Dutch Social Democrat Frans Timmermans (58), was the top candidate for her party family. Timmermans is a Catholic; Christian values are important to him to this day – even though he was a victim of sexual abuse as a 13-year-old in the Boy Scouts in Rome. His relationship with religion was shaken by this event, but it did not break it. Timmermans is committed to leading exchanges with religious representatives in the EU Commission.

Third vice president is to be the Spaniard Josep Borell (72). From 2004 to 2007 he was already president of the EU Parliament. In new commission, he takes office as EU foreign affairs envoy.

"Not at a loss for biblical quotations"

France sends Catholic Sylvie Goulard (54) into the race. The current vice president of the French central bank is also familiar with the Brussels stage. The graduate of the elite ENA university advised former Commission President Romano Prodi and was an MEP from 2009 to 2017. Von der Leyen already knows the Liberal Democrat from her brief time as defense minister in 2017 and holds her in high regard. Goulard does not hide her Catholic identity – and is not at a loss for biblical quotations.

Austria's commission candidate Johannes Hahn (61) is said to have a loose relationship with the church. According to media reports he should have already left once. Because of cancer, he had lost the faith; but 16 years later he reentered it.

Luxembourg sends Catholic Nicolas Schmit to Brussels. The former labor minister has already served as Luxembourg's EU ambassador in Brussels. Hungary has proposed ex-justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi (63), Poland former EU deputy Jusz Wojciechowski (64). Croatia sends EU deputy Dubravka Suica (62). From Cyprus comes the deputy Stella Kyriakides (63).

Hollerich: hope for 50 percent women

Sweden sends labor minister Ylva Johansson (55). The president of the EU bishops' commission, Luxembourg's Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, said he would be pleased if von der Leyen succeeded in putting together a commission that is truly half women. "In this way, it could show that the EU is not a club where you talk a lot, but where action is also taken," Hollerich said.

There were 9 women and 19 men in the Juncker Commission. Von der Leyen confirmed a list of twelve women on Monday. So, with herself, women would have almost reached 50 percent of the congregation.

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