New European Commission, including Czech Republic's Věra Jourová, faces tough tasks ahead

Jean-Claude Juncker, photo: CTK

The new European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker received a relatively strong endorsement from MEPs on Wednesday, roughly ten days before it assumes office on November 1. The new commission includes the Czech Republic’s Věra Jourová - the commissioner for justice, consumer rights and gender equality – who, along with other members, will face tough tasks ahead.

Jean-Claude Juncker,  photo: CTK
I discussed her role in the EC, as well as the mandate received by the commission on Wednesday, with Radko Hokovský of the Prague-based think-tank European Values.

“The commission received strong support even though - it was quickly pointed out – not quite as much as the two previous commissions led by Jose Manuel Barroso, in terms of the votes. That said, around 400 MEPs backed the commission and that is a strong majority of course.”

Mr Juncker has outlined several key priorities including growth in jobs, energy policy, migration and security to name four. Is there any area this new commission will try to get off to a running start?

“Those certainly rank as among the most important: if there is a problem, it is a question of whether the commission isn’t being too ambitious, whether it can fulfill its stated goals. Mr Juncker wants to put some 300 billion euros into the real economy over the next three years and it is a question whether he can really succeed because it is not just up to the EC, but individual states have to be on board.

“Then there are divisions within the commission itself on how best to tackle the issue: there are some who are in favour more fiscal discipline and those who favour economic stimulus and investment.”

Věra Jourová,  photo: Filip Jandourek
Věra Jourová represents the Czech Republic with a fairly broad portfolio: she may soon be in a position where the Czech Republic will come under greater scrutiny for the alleged discrimination of Roma by sending children to special schools… Do you think this will be a potentially tough first task or hurdle to face?

“Potentially, yes. She will have to maneuver or balance her now independent position within the European Commission (protecting EU principles including the fight against discrimination) together with her nationality and understanding of the situation in the Czech Republic.

“In the past, the European Commission was seen, by Czech politicians and civil servants here, as having only a general understanding of the situation of minorities including the Roma here. So this could be difficult: to provide a true description and what needs to be done. What should be demanded of the Czech Republic will be up to Ms Jourová to decide.”