The new European Commission may not be ready to take up its work as planned on November 1, a spokesman said Thursday, after EU lawmakers voted down one of its proposed members.
“There is a real risk of some delay,” said Margaritis Schinas, a spokesman for incoming commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
On Wednesday night, the legislature’s environmental and energy committees voted 112-13 against the appointment of former Slovenian prime minister Alenka Bratusek.
She had been nominated for the influential post of vice president for energy in the European Union’s executive but came under fire because of a corruption probe in Slovenia and poor performance in her European Parliament hearing.
Bratusek remains a commissioner-designate because the parliament has yet to take a final position on the matter, Schinas said.
“At this stage, no discussions, no decisions on any adjustments will be taken,” he said, adding that Juncker believes his allocation of portfolios was the right one.
But Schinas said talks are under way between Juncker, the parliament leadership and the Slovenian government to find a solution.
“Jean-Claude Juncker has been a prime minister, and a very successful one if I may say so, for 19 years,” he said. “So his sense of politics, balance and finesse I think are beyond any doubt.”
Parliament sources said they believe the timeline for the new commission can still be maintained “if there is no time lost in the replacement of Ms. Bratusek.”
Bratusek was the only one among the 27 commissioner nominees whom EU parliamentarians rejected outright.
Slovenia’s new prime minister, Miro Cerar, said Wednesday that his government planned to suggest another nominee in two to three days, according to local media. He refused to comment on possible names, but EU parliamentarian Tanja Fajon is speculated to be an option.
It remained unclear on Thursday whether Bratusek would have to step down to clear the way for a new Slovenian nominee.
The commission, the European Union’s executive, proposes laws and plays a key role in ensuring they are applied. The parliament has a history of forcing changes in its nominations.