The European Commission wants to put Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, a fiscal hardliner with little experience in green policymaking, in charge of EU climate action.
The Dutch caretaker government last week named Hoekstra as its preferred replacement for Frans Timmermans, who resigned from the Commission to run in the country’s November election.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Tuesday that she decided to formally nominate Hoekstra as climate commissioner.
“He will be in charge of climate action,” she said, “under the guidance” of Maroš Šefčovič, who was named executive vice president for the European Green Deal last week. Timmermans previously held both posts.
Hoekstra now faces a tough hearing in the European Parliament, where left-leading MEPs have already raised doubts about whether he is suited for the role.
Socialist lawmakers worry that the appointment of the center-right Hoekstra will tip the political balance in the Commission. Šefčovič and Timmermans are both members of the center-left Socialists & Democrats group, while Hoekstra belongs to the European People’s Party.
Others have pointed to Hoekstra’s limited experience with climate policy. He worked for consultancy McKinsey and oil giant Shell before moving into politics, becoming finance minister in 2017 and foreign minister in 2022.
Hoekstra, who would also represent the EU at this year’s COP28 climate conference in Dubai, “has relevant professional experience for this post,” von der Leyen said, adding he was committed to “continuing an ambitious climate policy.”
“His governmental experience will be a strong asset in particular for Europe’s climate diplomacy in the run-up to COP28 and for climate finance,” she also said.