Belgium will nominate Foreign Minister Didier Reynders as its next European commissioner, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Charles Michel said Saturday.
Reynders is a Francophone liberal from Michel’s own party, the Reformist Movement (MR). In Belgium’s outgoing government, he served as both deputy prime minister and foreign minister. The government remains in office in a caretaker capacity following a general election in May as a new administration has not yet been formed.
Reynders, 61, has also held responsibility for the defense portfolio for the past eight months after the ruling coalition collapsed. He served as the country’s finance minister between 1999 and 2011.
If his candidacy is approved by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen and the European Parliament, the MR —Belgium’s fourth-largest party — will hold two top EU jobs. Michel himself was elected president of the European Council in early July. He will take up that post on December 1.
During her own nomination process, von der Leyen said she would ask EU member countries to propose both a male and a female candidate for commissioner to ensure she can select a gender-balanced Commission. However, most EU countries have turned a blind eye to that request.
Reynders’ nomination was first reported by Belgian news agency Belga. A spokesman for Michel confirmed the report.
Reynders is reported to have long hoped for a European top job. At the end of June, he lost a bid to become the new secretary-general of the Council of Europe — the Continent’s leading human rights body — to Croatia’s then-Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić.
Reynders was one of three candidates reported to be under consideration in the final stages of the nomination process for the Commission post. The others were former Belgian Economy Minister Kris Peeters of the Flemish Christian Democrats and Francophone Socialist Laurette Onkelinx, a former justice minister.
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