On 16 July 2019 the European Parliament elected Ursula von der Leyen as the first-ever woman President of the European Commission. Her team was officially confirmed by the European Parliament on 27 November, thus paving the way for the new College to take office on 1 December for a five-year term.
For the first time ever, delivering on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) is featuring as a key objective of each Commissioner’s portfolio and that of the College as a whole.
With the Green Deal set to be published in the coming days, climate change is without doubt the top priority of von der Leyen’s agenda – and her first trip as Commission President will be to Madrid to attend the UN climate talks.
It is the intention of this new Commission to continue to strengthen trade and investment agreements as enablers for the respect and advancement of labour and environmental standards in third countries.
The new Commission is also committed to progressing on the circular economy journey and to expanding on the work carried out by the previous Commission by prioritising certain sectors (for instance textiles).
The new trade Commissioner will be tasked, among other things, with applying a zero-tolerance policy on child labour. This point has already been regarded as a potential door-opener for discussions on mandatory human rights due diligence legislation at European level.
Delivering on a “Farm to Fork strategy for sustainable food” and curtailing biodiversity loss by adopting a new Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 are also areas where amfori might wish to engage.
The Political Guidelines presented in July, read in conjunction with the Commissioner-designate individual mission letters and the commitments made during their confirmation hearings, help further outline the focus areas of this new Commission.
Commission’s power structure
The new College will have eight Vice-Presidents, including three Executive Vice-Presidents and the High-Representative of the Union for Foreign Policy and Security Policy. The Vice-Presidents have been tasked with the top priorities in the Political Guidelines.
The Commission recently published a set of principles governing the work of the new Commission in an effort to explain how decisions will be taken and how coordination will be ensured.
In the course of October amfori launched its EU policy agenda 2024, outlining our advocacy priorities to advance economic prosperity as well as environmental and social sustainability.
Individual letters of congratulations have also been sent by amfori’s President Christian Ewert to Commissioners holding portfolios relevant to amfori’s work, namely Environment & Oceans, Justice, Trade, Agriculture, Green Deal and the Commission President herself.
An event on “harnessing the potential of sustainable trade” will be organised in Brussels on 21 January 2020 to give further momentum to our agenda 2024. More roundtables will be planned in the course of 2020, including but not limited to human rights due diligence and deforestation.
Contact: Valentina Bolognesi, Social & Environnemental Policy Advisor