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Várhelyi Might Have to Settle for a Different Commissioner Portfolio

Hungary Today 2019.10.04.

In an attempt to ensure her promised gender balance in the EC, Ursula von der Leyen expects a female Commissioner-designate from Viktor Orbán.  At the same time, the incoming EC president is reportedly planning a swap, giving the enlargement portfolio to the Romanian candidate. This would also mean Olivér Várhelyi gets the less influential transport section.

After László Trócsányi was rejected as European Commissioner-designate, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced his nomination for ambassador, Olivér Várhelyi. At that time, Orbán said he hadn’t talked to Ursula von der Leyen about possible portfolio changes and it would remain the same (enlargement), but according to recent press reports, this might not be the case.

Also, Ursula von der Leyen wants Orbán to provide her with a female candidate, as her main goal is to keep gender balance in the commission – an important promise she made during her campaign.

What Are Várhelyi’s Chances of Becoming Commissioner?

According to leftist daily Népszava, at the same time she is planning a portfolio swap, accepting Romania’s female candidate while also giving her the enlargement portfolio. This means Olivér Várhelyi would become the Commissioner of Transport.

The outcome would be a huge loss for Orbán, as the enlargement portfolio is much more important than the less relevant transport.

The rumor is reinforced by the fact that Ursula von der Leyen has already met Olivér Várhelyi on Tuesday but there has been no official announcement made about the diplomat’s nomination.

Opposition MEPs Won’t Rule Out Supporting Várhelyi’s EC Nomination

The decision would then be a “consolation prize” for Romania.

According to index.hu’s EUrologus, a conflict broke out between the Romanian government and the incoming EC president. The Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă did not think it was fair for Von der Leyen to ask him for a female Commissioner-designate as well, while she accepted Viktor Orbán’s proposal, who nominated a man for the job two times in a row.

It is also important to note, however, that Orbán is in a much better bargaining position than the Romanian Prime Minister, as the latter no longer has a majority in parliament.

Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

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