The Commission has just published the new list of EU Commissioners and their responsibilities for the next five years.
It looks like the paper obtained by Jean Quatremer which we reported on yesterday got it quite wrong.
Here's our initial reaction:
1) It looks as though France’s Michel Barnier gets the financial services portfolio as well as internal market after all. Right up to today (Times) reports said that Barroso would remove responsibility from the internal market portfolio and either make a whole new Financial Services post, or put it in with the Competition or Economic & Monetary Affairs briefs. Clearly this is not now going to happen and controversially, the protectionist Europhile Michel Barnier will gain control over financial services regulation. This is a major blow to the UK, in particular the City, which is currently fighting against misguided protectionist proposals for new EU rules over financial services, such as the proposed AIFM Directive (on alternative investment funds). British diplomats have been lobbying behind the scenes to stop this from happening – but they have obviously failed.
2) Also very interesting that they now have a brand new “Home Affairs” portfolio – previously this job was called Freedom, Security & Justice. With all the new powers given to the EU in this area by the Lisbon Treaty, this signals a clear intention to basically create an EU Home Office.
3) Interesting that they’ve got rid of the EU Commissioner for Communications post – it looks like DG Communication will still exist, but there will no longer be a Commissioner dedicated purely to that. Instead it comes under Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. That’s a bit embarrassing for the outgoing Communications Commissioner Margot Wallstrom who has spent the last five years trying to sell the EU to people with this post – and failing. However, no doubt the EU propaganda machine will continue under these other portfolios.
By swapping our influential trade portfolio for External Affairs (Cathy Ashton), the UK’s influence in the EU has arguably taken a step backwards. We’ve missed out on all the important economic portfolios, and handed responsibility for the internal market and financial services to a French protectionist – which is the worst case scenario.