Brexit-triggered complications add uncertainty to start date of new European Commission

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The European Union expected to have its new Commission in place by Dec 1 after an earlier setback, but the date might pass with the outgoing team still at their posts. The Brexit delay triggered the latest row. Britain argues that no British commissioner is necessary under the circumstances. The new European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, disagrees.

The original start date for the 27-member executive of the European Union – one commissioner for each EU member country – was Nov 1. When von der Leyen presented the nominees to legislators for approval in September, arguments over the selection delayed the start date to December.

The second complication arrived when Britain failed to exit the EU on the due date of Oct 31, and it was pushed to Jan 31. The extension means Britain is still an EU member and is required to nominate a commissioner. Johnson, who hopes to take Britain out of the European Union by the extended date, rebuffed von der Leyen when she pressed him to name a candidate.

Britain goes to the polls on Dec 12, in a vote aimed at breaking the Brexit stalemate in the country. The Commission rejects the British defense that it is bound by convention not to make major international appointments during a general election campaign, stating that it considers “that the UK is in breach of its EU Treaty obligations.” Von der Leyen plans to sue the Johnson government.

The EU’s most powerful leaders will change this year (Quartz May 2019)

Fragmented parliament complicates EU leadership contest (Reuters May 2019)

Far-right and nationalists make gains but pro-Europe centre has held ground (FT May)

New EU Commission delayed for at least a month (Oct 16)

Date written/update: 2019-11-15