New EU Commission embraces East

Jean-Claude Juncker, 10 Sept 14 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Juncker has put his own stamp on the Commission's top team

You can't please all the people all the time.

Environmentalists for example aren't happy. And some on the centre left worry that they haven't got as much influence as promised.

But as Jean-Claude Juncker's new-look European Commission holds an "awayday" seminar in leafy surroundings on the outskirts of Brussels, the response to his incoming team has been broadly positive.

He's tried to restructure the EU's executive to take account of changing policy priorities and the fact that a Commission involving 28 countries has become more than a little unwieldy.

There are more prominent jobs for East Europeans than ever before - including four of the seven newly-powerful vice-presidents.

Add to that the appointment of Poland's Donald Tusk as incoming President of the European Council and it is safe to say that the "new" member states have arrived. Not before time.

Image caption The new commissioners got acquainted at a Brussels "awayday"

Checks and balances

France and Britain have been handed important economic portfolios, but both Lord Hill (financial services) and Pierre Moscovici (economic and monetary affairs) will have to report to vice-presidents from much smaller member states.

Everyone is of course here to serve the greater European good (ahem), but there could be some creative tension ahead.

There is also the case of the German Commissioner Guenther Oettinger - moving from the energy portfolio to digital economy and society. Completing the digital single market is a huge priority for the EU, but this hardly feels like a prominent Commission role.

Not to worry, others will mutter, Germany has more than enough influence in Brussels already. And the new Commission is littered with enough fiscal hardliners in prominent positions to warm the hardest of hearts in Berlin.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The new team of 28 commissioners

There is of course a significant hurdle still to come for all new commissioners - confirmation hearings in the European Parliament.

Several appointees could be under pressure.

The incoming Spanish commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, hasn't won many female admirers for his televised comments earlier this year that debates with women are "complicated" because "if you show intellectual superiority you are branded sexist".

Lord Hill will come under scrutiny for different reasons. Greens will dig into his lobbying past, looking for any skeletons in the cupboard; and many Socialists are deeply unhappy that a British free marketeer has been handed control of regulating the City of London.

"We promise to be very tough with Lord Hill," said the Socialist group leader Gianni Pittella.

Lord Hill is a good example of Mr Juncker handing a portfolio to a commissioner from a country where the issue at hand is of considerable domestic importance. Greece and migration is another example; Ireland and agriculture a third.

But has the president-elect gone too far?

Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary has been repeatedly criticised within the EU for undermining democratic institutions.

So there may be some in the European Parliament who believe that giving responsibility for citizenship to a commissioner from Hungary (Tibor Navracsics) is comparable to suggesting that the lunatics might be best placed to run the asylum.

There is still plenty to play for, before the new Commission finally takes office on 1 November.