At a plenary session of the European Parliament on 5 October, final approval was given to the appointments of Wopke Hoekstra as Commissioner for Climate Action and Maroš Šefčovič as Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal.
The appointment of the two nominees came after Frans Timmermans resigned from his role as Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal in August 2023 to run as a candidate for prime minister in the upcoming national election in the Netherlands. Leaving the EU Commission, he also left the Green Deal at a particularly delicate moment, as various dossiers will have to be closed before the EU legislature reaches the end of its term in 2024. Many legislative initiatives are still under discussion, such as the Nature Restoration Law and the Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products, two of the main agricultural pillars of the Green Deal. On the other hand, some particularly divisive legislation will go through its implementation phase, such as the update to the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulation and the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation: in both cases, close monitoring on the part of the EU Commission will be needed.
Accepting the resignation of Frans Timmermans in August, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen decided to assign the role of Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal to the (former) Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, Maroš Šefčovič. As for the new Commissioner nominated by the Netherlands, Wopke Hoekstra, she assigned him sole responsibility for the Climate Action portfolio, and he will also represent the EU at the upcoming COP28, the UN Climate Conference to be held in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November to 12 December 2023.
During the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, separate votes were held for each of the Commissioners, both by secret ballot: Hoekstra's nomination was approved with 279 votes in favour, 173 against and 33 abstentions, while Šefčovič received 322 votes in favour, 158 against and 37 abstentions.
The vote followed two challenging hearings before the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). Only after obtaining many reassurances did the coordinators of the Committee from the EPP, S&D, the Greens and Renew Europe give the green light to the nominations, forming the qualified two-thirds majority required for the vote to be held. The positive assessment was subsequently confirmed by the Conference of Committee Chairs and the Conference of Presidents, and the candidacies were put to a vote of the entire plenary.