EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has accepted in principle the nomination of Julian King as the new British member of the European Commission. Juncker said he will decide this month what portfolio to offer him.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron nominated Julian King - currently British ambassador to France - to fill the seat on the commission left by Jonathan Hill, who quit after the Brexit vote last month.
King worked at the Commission in 2008 and 2009, when he was chief of staff to Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and after that to foreign affairs boss Catherine Ashton, both British former commissioners.
"President Juncker was able to establish Sir Julian's European competencies. On the basis of this meeting and his biography, the president is reflecting on possible portfolios and he will announce his decision by the end of this month," Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.
Outgoing commissioner Jonathan Hill said he couldn't remain in his post after the referendum results
Hill had been given the sensitive financial services portfolio by Commission President Juncker, despite being sent to Brussels by David Cameron precisely on the basis of his euroskpetic tendencies. Hill expressed regret when quitting his post, saying his brief time in Brussels had showed him the values of membership of the bloc. Julian King is now likely to receive a less influential post, considering the prospect of the UK leaving the EU within the next few years.
When asked if Juncker could leave King without any specific portfolio given that Britain could be out of the EU within two years, Schinas replied: "Yes, I am tempted to exclude this possibility."
HIll's former portfolio in charge of financial services is now being split between Latvia's Valdis Dombrovskis, the commission vice president for the euro, and Economics Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici of France.
Once formally approved by Juncker, the appointment will be subject to review by the European Parliament - which returns from its summer recess in late August - and then confirmation by the EU's 28 heads of state and government.
jbh/msh (Reuters, AFP)