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1 December 2019 The new European Commission takes office

The new European Commission, under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen, has taken office on 1 December, after a delay caused by the rejection of three of the Commissioner-designates by the European Parliament. The new EC was approved by the EP on 27 November with 461 votes in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions. Von der Leyen has repeatedly said that she wants her Commission to be a geopolitical one. “I want Europe to strive for more by strengthening our unique brand of responsible global leadership”, she writes in the Political Guidelines for the new Commission. With regards to the Mediterranean, the mission letters Ursula Von der Leyen sent to the Commissioners hint to some of the important issues to be addressed, including the review of the partnership priorities and Association agenda in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy, Turkey negotiations for accession, unblocking the negotiations on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with Morocco and Tunisia, boosting inter and intra-regional trade as well as dealing with the energy situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. The negotiation of a New Pact on Migration and asylum will be a priority for the new European Commission. It remains to be seen how the merging of external financial instruments into a single neighbourhood, development and international cooperation instrument (NDICI) will affect policies towards the Southern neighbourhood. Beyond its immediate Southern neighbourhood, the future of the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran, will remain an important issue for the European Commission. Key commissioners to handle all those issue will be Olivér Várhelyi, in Neighbourhood and Enlargement; Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Policy; Phil Hogan, in Trade; Ylva Johansson, in Home Affairs; Jutta Urpilainen, in International Partnerships; Kadri Simson, in Energy; and Margaritis Schinas, in Protecting the European Way of Life. Former HR/VP Federica Mogherini thanked “to all who have contributed to make the EU a reliable partner, a pillar of multilateralism, a stubborn defender of human rights” during her 5-year mandate, while ensuring that her office “is in the good hands of Josep Borrell”. Also Johannes Hahn, former commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood, who will be in charge of Budget, thanked all for “the excellent cooperation” and whished that “the reforms we initiated together will be continued and that progress will be rewarded”.