This column was rejected by the Luxembourg Times.
As the Democratic Party (DP), the socialist party (LSAP), and the Greens (déi Gréng) are concluding their coalition talks, speculations are running high on the restructuring of the upcoming government. One key role that will have to be filled in May next year is that of EU Commissioner. As of now, Luxembourg did not have a regular Commission post, as Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is Luxembourgish. Prior to Juncker, Viviane Reding – now a member of parliament – was European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. Juncker has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2019, which is why the next government will appoint this well-paid and prestigious Brussels top job.
François Bausch (déi Gréng) has been a key player in putting his party into the position it is today: the Greens moved from a party of hippies in 1980s to a serious contender in Luxembourgish politics. And yes, while the Greens might be surfing the Green wave happening all over Europe, François Bausch has his merit in the process, given how active he was in local politics in the city of Luxembourg.
Now that the Greens jumped from six to nine seats in parliament, while the socialists went down from 13 to just ten seats, Bausch will have a more considerable negotiating position in the upcoming government. As minister for infrastructure, it is clear that Bausch does not get the spotlight he’d like to have. Apart from the inauguration of buildings and public transport plans, Bausch was not very noticeable in comparison to a foreign minister or the minister of the economy. He’s likely to want to up his game.
Bausch speaks workable English, and enjoys public debate whenever he is in Brussels, such as Politico’s Connected Transport Summit. Bausch will eye the Commission vacancy for several reasons:
- He can claim the merit from within his own party, as he is its most prominent member
- As the socialist party has lost seats, it gives the Greens negotiating power to ask for more prestigious posts
- It is plausible that the Greens could promise the LSAP to maintain the current number of ministries, provided they get the Commission post
- The DP is happy that they maintain the post of Prime Minister, and do not have a self-evident position to claim the Commission seat
- A Commission seat would give déi Gréng a lot more credibility
François Bausch is likely to get the EU Commission post, also because no other contender is apparent. Claude Turmes, former Member of the European Parliament and current Secretary of State for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, would be considered by his own party and by Bausch as having served his time in Brussels. If Turmes were to argue for a promotion to commissioner, it could lead to a power struggle inside the Green Party. Nicholas Schmit (LSAP), current Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, might have eyed the post in the past, but his party is simply not in the position to make demands after this election. In any way, such an appointment would constitute a major win for Luxembourg’s Greens.
Pictures are Creative Commons.
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