Top EC post for 'most powerful Dutch woman'
4 August 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende confirmed on Tuesday that former Liberal VVD government minister Neelie Kroes has officially been nominated as the Netherlands' candidate for the new European Commission.
4 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende confirmed on Tuesday that former Liberal VVD government minister Neelie Kroes has officially been nominated as the Netherlands' candidate for the new European Commission.
It remains unclear what portfolio Kroes will be given, but Balkenende spoke with the new EC President, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, on Tuesday and said he expects Kroes will be appointed to an important economic post.
The prime minister said on the government's website www.regering.nl that obtaining an important economic post meant the Netherlands could play an influential role within the European Commission.
He also said Kroes had proven administrative experience and an international outlook. "She knows Europe, has an affinity with science and business. She has qualities that I think will be completely proven right in Brussels," he said.
According to VVD party sources, the former minister is in line to be given the Transport or Energy portfolio. This is in contrast to earlier reports indicating the Netherlands wanted one of the four most influential economic posts in the EC — internal markets, competition, trade or monetary affairs
Brussels will make its decision on the division of portfolios officially public on 20 August. The current Dutch EC Internal Markets Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, has indicated he does not wish to serve another term.
Kroes spoke with Durao Barroso on Tuesday and later said she was honoured by her nomination, admitting she felt "exceptionally good". Kroes also said she was looking forward to the task, Dutch public news service NOS reported.
The 63-year-old was Transport Minister in the Cabinets of former prime minister Ruud Lubbers from 1982 to 1989 and supervised the privatisation of the PTT. That was her last political function, but she remained in the upper echelons of power.
Kroes is a member on the board of commissioners of a handful of various companies and organisations. Newspaper NRC Handelsblad recently labelled her as the most powerful woman in the Netherlands. She was appointed as an advisor to the formation of the present coalition government Cabinet last year.
The Netherlands is one of the last European Union member states to officially nominate its EC candidate, due to the fact that the VVD and Christian Democrat CDA each demanded someone from their party be appointed to the commission.
Each EU member state nominates one candidate to the EC, meaning that the commission will consists of 25 commissioners.
Labour party MP Frans Timmermans said the "political tug-of-war" meant the Netherlands was completely behind in the division of EC portfolios.
Nevertheless, sources in Brussels have said that Durao Barroso has not yet made a final decision about the division of posts on the new EC, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
Besides Kroes, current Christian Democrat CDA Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman was also a candidate commissioner. He would have been given the nod if the Netherlands gained the agriculture portfolio.
Veerman is well considered in Brussels due largely to his work in the division of fishing quotas last year. But Denmark nominated its Agriculture Minister, Mariann Fischer Boel, for the post earlier on Monday, reducing Veerman's chances.
Moreover, the Danish minister is a woman and Durao Barroso has indicated he wants eight female commissioners in the new EC. Kroes was the eighth woman to be nominated.
Durao Barosso will present his nominated commissioners to the European Parliament later this month and if MEPs approve of the proposed composition, the new EC will officially go to work on 1 November.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news