Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission and the EU Commissioner responsible for the European Green Deal, often referred to as the right hand of Ursula von der Leyen, ns has submitted his resignation from his European Commission position. This decision comes as he intends to run as a candidate in the upcoming Dutch elections.
According to a statement issued by the EC on Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen accepted his resignation and expressed her gratitude to Vice President Timmermans for his years of work on behalf of the EU Commission and European citizens.
Von der Leyen is entrusting Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal and climate policies to Vice President Maroš Šefčovič with Timmermans’ former role. Šefčovič is currently responsible for interinstitutional relations within the European Commission. This appointment will remain in effect until a Dutch citizen is appointed to the Commission.
Von der Leyen has also informed the President of the European Parliament and the rotating Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union about the measures taken after Frans Timmermans’ resignation. She has also sent an official letter to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, requesting the nomination of both a female and a male candidate for the Commissioner position.
According to press reports, Frans Timmermans will be the joint candidate of the Labour Party (PvdA) and the Green Left (GL) in the upcoming Dutch parliamentary elections scheduled for 22 November. The 62-year-old Labour Party politician, considered the lead candidate for both parties, announced on 20 July that he aims to secure the Prime Minister’s position in the November elections, after PvdA and GL announced their election alliance. Timmermans, a former parliamentary representative of PvdA, is returning to Dutch politics after a ten-year absence. In July, the government led by Mark Rutte was forced to resign as the four-party coalition could not reach an agreement on migration reforms. The Cabinet has been operating in a caretaker capacity since then.
Timmermans’ name might ring a bell with our readers, as he has frequently criticised the Hungarian government and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
There was hardly anything the Hungarian right-wing government could do that was met with his approval.
He criticised the Hungarian handling of the refugee crisis, the state of the rule of law, and Hungary’s foreign policy regarding Russia. When he was a candidate for the President of the European Commission, he even challenged the Hungarian Prime Minister to a public debate, which Orbán declined.
Timmermans began his career as a representative of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA), and later served as the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in the second Rutte government. In 2014, he was nominated European Commissioner for the Netherlands. He also held the position of EU Commissioner responsible for the rule of law and served as a Vice President within the European Commission. In 2019, it was Ursula von der Leyen, not Timmermans, who was ultimately elected as the President of the European Commission by the European Parliament. The Hungarian government in fact campaigned against Timmermans’ presidency. In the same year, von der Leyen tasked him with the implementation of the European Green Deal, which aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.