BRUSSELS. Now that Frans Timmermans has decided to jump into the arena of Dutch politics, who will inherit his heavy portfolio with Green Deal powers? Ursula von der Leyen has been thinking about it continuously since Wednesday morning, since her executive vice-president anticipated her decision, officially communicated yesterday. Qualified sources at Palazzo Berlaymont reveal that the president would be inclined to focus on Paolo Gentiloni.
The decision has not yet been made, also because the commissioner was on a mission to the United States. The two would not have talked about it yet, but Gentiloni's name is the one that circulates with the most insistence on the thirteenth floor of the Commission building. Having rejected the hypothesis of focusing on Virginijus Sinkevicius (who also has the delegation to the Environment) because he is considered too "junior", Von der Leyen does not seem willing to keep the delegations to the Green Deal, not even temporarily. This would be too onerous a commitment for a president in her last year of office. Furthermore, in view of a re-nomination, managing her green dossiers would expose her directly to the criticisms of the Ppe, her party, which with Manfred Weber has started a battle against the green pact. Timmermans knows something about it, and yesterday he was harshly attacked by two representatives of the Italian government. “We will not miss him – said the Minister of Transport, Matteo Salvini -. We expect Dutch voters to treat him as he deserves." Even Adolfo Urso (Companies) did not hold back: «His candidacy is good news for Europe because he will have to take a leave, hopefully a long one». Gentiloni would certainly not find an easy climate. Current head of the economy, the former prime minister is one of the members of the Von der Leyen team with the highest profile resume (only he and Valdis Dombrovskis have been heads of government). The president has great respect for the Pd exponent and the idea is that the "transition" from the Economy to the Green Deal is absolutely compatible, given that she herself has always defined the green plan as "our growth strategy". With the energy crisis, the objectives of the Green Deal have been questioned by the EPP and European industry, which is why the real challenge is to ensure that the environmental transition is sustainable from an economic and social point of view. It must be said that the Commission has already put all the key legislative proposals on the table, which is why the work to be done between now and the Europeans is more of a mediation job with Parliament and the Council to bring the dossiers to final approval. It remains to be understood what impact a possible change in Gentiloni's portfolio would have on the management of the Pnrr and on the reform of the Stability Pact.
Then there is a question of political balances which must be respected. A portfolio change could also bring with it a promotion to vice president or even executive vice president. With Timmermans' departure from the scene, the socialists would in fact lose a place in the "triad" created by Von der Leyen and placed above the team of commissioners. The president had created this scheme to ensure a balance between Ursula's majority parties: popular (Valdis Dombrovskis), liberals (Margrethe Vestager) and socialists (Timmermans).
However, this will also depend on Timmermans' choice. Formally, his candidacy will be made official in mid-August, so until then he will remain in office as commissioner in all respects. Once a candidate, however, he will be obliged to take leave at least until the election date, while formally maintaining his post. In any case, it seems that the Dutchman wants to leave the EU executive definitively as early as August to devote himself to internal politics.