Commission's line-up looks beyond Europe

THE European Commission indicated yesterday that it intended to take a strong lead in the future formulation of foreign policy by its announcement of a new line-up giving the most powerful portfolios to two of its most heavyweight members.

The new Commission is looking to develop external rather than internal policies, in the aftermath of Maastricht battles, a fact reflected in the fact that for the first time, the responsibilites for the external affairs have been divided.

Sir Leon Brittan, who made a name for himself in his free-market approach to competition policy, will take charge of external economic affairs - relations with the EC's principal non-European trading partners: the US, Japan and China, the CIS and central and Eastern Europe. He will also be responsible for commercial policy where the EC negotiates en bloc. This puts him in the frontline of the current Gatt negotiations and the politically sensitive area of anti-dumping policy.

As a counterweight, the former Dutch foreign minister, Hans van den Broek will deal with external political relations. This will encompass the enlargement negotiations that the incoming Danish presidency has pledged to begin on 1 February, as well as common foreign and security policy.

This last is one of the new spheres of influence laid down in the Maastricht treaty, and Mr van den Broek will therefore be sailing uncharted waters. His task will be to move the Twelve towards a common foreign policy, and his experience last year in trying to broker peace in Yugoslavia and the respect that won him in national capitals should stand him in good stead.

The only other commissioner with foreign affairs experience, the former Portuguese foreign minister, Joao de Deus Pinheiro, gets a roving brief. Though a newcomer, he will be the commissioner responsible for internal relations with the European Parliament and the member states - the Commission's public face in the new age of openness and transparency.

The foreign affairs dossier has been further tidied by adding to the development aid portfolio held by the Spanish Commissioner, Manuel Marin, other elements of relations with the Third World, the Middle East and Asia, that was formerly handled by Abel Matutes, the junior Spanish commissioner. As he hoped, Mr Matutes will get instead energy and transport policy.

The 17-strong European Commission (16 commissioners plus the president) is a strange political animal rendered stranger still by the fact that its new appointees will unusually serve only a two-year term.

The Maastricht treaty, in the interests of democratic accountability, allows for the European Parliament to oversee the Commission's appointment in 1994. However, it is likely that many of those named yesterday will be re-nominated then, but Jacques Delors will not be Commission president.

The success of Mr Delors' decision to split the foreign affairs portfolio between two commissioners will depend largely on the working relationship between Mr Brittan and Mr van den Broek.

Another alliance to watch is that between the new competition commissioner, Karel van Miert (formerly transport) and the German Martin Bangemann, who will take over industrial affairs, information and telecommunications technology.

Although commissioners are not theoretically allowed to pursue national interest in office, this rule is often flouted. In the previous Commission, Britain and Germany were a powerful free-market alliance. This may weaken with Mr van Miert - one of the rare Socialists to take charge of competition policy - in the chair.

Mr Bangemann's internal market dossier will go to a newcomer, Raniero Vanni d'Archirafi from Italy. He adds to it institutional questions, financial institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises. The other Italian commissioner, Antonio Ruberti, is also a newcomer and will be responsible for science research and development and training.

The environment portfolio that was originally the preserve of Rome, goes instead to yet another newcomer, Ioannis Paleokrassas from Greece, who also takes over fisheries.

Luxembourg, in the shape of Rene Steichen, takes over agriculture from Ireland. Ray MacSharry's successor, Padraig Flynn, takes responsibility for social affairs and employment. Since this job will also include questions linked to immigration, internal and judicial affairs, it could prove to be one of the Commission's most important and politically explosive dossiers.

Henning Christophersen, the Danish commissioner, Peter Schmidhuber of Germany, France's Christiane Scrivener and the other British commissioner, Bruce Millan, will maintain their portfolios. They are, respectively, economic, financial and monetary affairs; the budget and financial control; customs and tax; regional policy.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border