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New European Commission President Names Trade Chief, Announces Reforms

Friday, September 12, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

European Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker announced Sept. 10 a revamped organization designed to “focus on tackling the big political challenges Europe is facing.” He also named Sweden’s Cecilia Malmström, currently the European Union’s home affairs commissioner, to replace Karel de Gucht as trade commissioner.

According to a Commission press release, Juncker’s reforms include adding seven vice presidents, each of whom will steer and coordinate the work of a number of commissioners in compositions that may change according to need and as new projects develop over time. Juncker said he wants all members of the Commission to “cooperate across portfolios” and “overcome silo mentalities” to produce “integrated, well-grounded and well-explained initiatives that lead to clear results.”

Malmström, along with the other commissioners, is expected to begin a five-year term in November. She has been described as a centrist and was cited as saying that “getting rid of barriers and opening new markets … will be to the benefit of the European workforce, European consumers and companies as well as our foreign partners.” Juncker called on her to focus on (1) continuing to engage fully in the World Trade Organization and multilateral trade processes, (2) working toward a reasonable and balanced Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the U.S., (3) advance existing bilateral and regional negotiations and consider whether to launch new ones, (4) developing a strong foreign direct investment policy, (5) taking stock of the use of trade defense instruments “so that we can decide on the best way forward,” and (6) working to strengthen the EU’s strategic partnership with Africa.

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