BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Jean-Claude Juncker, the incoming president of the European Commission, handed key economic and financial responsibilities to French and British members of a restructured, 28-strong team he unveiled on Wednesday.
Former French finance minister Pierre Moscovici was given the economic and monetary policy portfolio, although he will be supervised by former Finnish prime minister Jyrki Katainen and former Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovskis.
Paris has been pushing for greater flexibility within the euro zone on government deficits, hoping to revive economic growth, while Katainen and Dombrovskis were allies of Germany in insisting that euro zone states hold down their debt levels.
In a surprise move, British Conservative Jonathan Hill was given a revamped portfolio entitled Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union – something the London government, outside the euro zone, had been pitching hard for. He will be in charge of relations with, among others, the European Banking Authority.
One analyst described Hill’s job as “a major peace offering” by Juncker, the former Luxembourg premier, to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who fought hard and publicly to block Juncker’s’ appointment as president two months ago.
Like Moscovici, Hill’s brief will be overseen by Katainen and Dombrovskis, part of a structure in which Juncker said seven vice-presidents would help coordinate the work of the Commission, on which each of the 28 member states has one seat.
“I have decided to make some changes and to shake some things up a bit,” Juncker told a news conference. His new structure will have more vice-presidents than before and they no longer have their own portfolios but oversee broader themes.
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