Minister Jourova to be Czech candidate for EU commissioner


21.07.2014 14:15

Prague - Local Development Minister Vera Jourova (ANO) will be the Czech government's candidate for EU commissioner, the coalition council of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) agreed today, the parties' representatives have told reporters.


Prezident Miloš Zeman, premiér Bohuslav Sobotka, ministryně pro místní rozvoj Věra Jourová (na snímku), ministr dopravy Antonín Prachař a ministr průmyslu a obchodu Jan Mládek se 29. května v Praze zůčastnili diskuse vrcholných představitelů státu s generálními řediteli stavebních, projektových a developerských společností o směřování, klíčových krocích a budoucnosti českého stavebnictví. ČTK Doležal Michal

President Milos Zeman praised the choice of Jourova, who was considered the favourite for the post.

The agreement of the government parties was enabled thanks to the CSSD's concession.

The senior government party has given up the nomination of former finance minister Pavel Mertlik for EU commissioner in exchange for ANO's support to an increase in social services' funding by some 750 million crowns and a rise in the minimum wage by 700 crowns (instead of originally planned 500) to 9,200 crowns.

Prime Minister and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said the nomination of a woman would increase the Czech Republic's chances to gain one of quite significant portfolios in the new European Commission (EC).

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker wants a high representation of women in it.

The nomination of Jourova is an excellent choice and a very reasonable solution, Zeman said today.

However, he criticised the government for having chosen the EU commissioner so long. Sobotka did not have to go to Brussels for advice and the candidate's name could have been known two or three weeks earlier, Zeman added.

The government itself will debate Jourova's nomination later today. The Chamber of Deputies committee for European affairs will deal with it. Then the cabinet will officially confirm it and sent it to Brussels.

All candidates for new EU commissioners are to be known by the end of July. In September, they will be interviewed in the EP. Then the MEPs will be approving the whole new EC, which is to assume office on November 1.

"I am glad that we have reached agreement. There is a big chance of getting an interesting portfolio," Deputy PM, Finance Minister and ANO chairman Andrej Babis said, adding that he agreed with the rise in the minimum wage and social services' funding.

However, Deputy PM Pavel Belobradek, chairman of the smallest government party KDU-CSL, said the rise in the minimum wage must yet be discussed at a tripartite meeting, comprising representatives of the government, trade unions and employers.

"I consider it a great honour and commitment for me. It is a big challenge," Jourova told reporters.

She added that she would prefer focusing on regional politics and inter-institutional relations in the EC. "However, I do not fear transport or industry either," she noted.

Babis will go to Brussels to join the talks on portfolios. He wants to meet Juncker and Guy Verhofstadt, head of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group of which ANo is a member.

Jourova also said she would like to improve the reputation of the Czech Republic in the EU.

Jourova wants to stay in the government till the autumn when the new EC should start working.

By then, she intends to gain the maximum from European funds and submit an amendment to the law on public procurement to the government.

Jourova said she would like her deputy Klara Dostalova to replace her at the ministry's helm. However, it is not sure whether ANO and its coalition partners will agree with Dostalova.

Jourova will also step down as ANO's first deputy chairwoman, but she will probably remain its rank-and-file member.

Current Czech EU commissioner Stefan Fuele, who assumed post in February 2010, is in charge of enlargement and European neighbourhood policy.

State secretary for European affairs Tomas Prouza was the first to release the coalition council's agreement on the candidate on Twitter.

($1=20.283 crowns)

Brief profile of Local Development Minister Vera Jourova

Date and place of birth: August 18, 1964, Trebic, south Moravia.

Education: She graduated from Faculty of Arts of Charles University (1991) and Faculty of Law of Charles University in Prague (2012).

Current posts: Local Development Minister (since January 2014); ANO movement first deputy chairwoman (since March 2013), member of Chamber of Deputies (since October 2013).

Career: deputy director of the Municipal Cultural Centre in Trebic (1991-94); secretary and press spokeswoman for Trebic municipal authority (1995-2000); worked with DHV CR consultancy firm (2000-01); headed regional development department of Vysocina Regional Authority (2001-03); deputy local development minister (2003-06); in recent years she has devoted herself to consultancy, focusing on European funds.

Political career: She was a Social Democrat (CSSD) member in 2003-06; in 2002 she was elected Trebic assembly member for CSSD; in 2009 she was running as unaffiliated on the European Democratic Party's list of candidates in European Parliament elections; she was running as unaffiliated for the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in the general election in 2010; she has been active in ANO since 2012 - she was the movement's manager, she worked on its economic programme; in March 2013 she was elected the movements' first deputy head; in the last October early general election she was ANO's Vysocina leader.

Family: divorced, with two children and a grandson.

Other information:

- Her responsibilities at the Local Development Ministry included European funds.

- In the autumn 2006 she spent one month in custody in the Budisov case, but the suspicion of corruption was not proved and the prosecution was halted in summer 2008 with the conclusion that the deed did not happen. Jourova was awarded 3.6 million crowns as compensation for property loss. The Constitutional Court rejected other demands as statute-barred.

- In an autobiography she described her attempted suicide in custody.

- She can speak English, Russian and has passive knowledge of Romanian.


Brief profiles of Czech EU commissioners since 2004

Pavel Telicka, 48 - The first Czech EU commissioner, cooperating with the Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, David Byrne, from May to November 2004. Before, Telicka was chief negotiator about the Czech Republic´ EU entry and the Czech ambassador to the EU (January 2003-April 2004). In December 2004, he established the BXL Consulting firm that was lobbying in the EU on behalf of private firms and the civil service. It ceased to exist so that Telicka could run in the EP elections. He was elected MEP for ANO in May.

Vladimir Spidla, 63 - European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities from November 2004 to February 2010. Previously, he was prime minister (2002-204) and labour and social affairs minister (1998-2002). Now he is the head of PM Bohuslav Sobotka's team of advisers.

Spidla´s government originally nominated former environment minister Milos Kuzvart for EU commissioner, but he gave up the candidature in February 2004 and the government nominated Telicka. Spidla resigned as PM after his Social Democrats´ (CSSD) debacle in EP polls in June 2004. One of the last steps of the outgoing government was sending him to the EC.

Stefan Fuele, 52 - European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy (since February 2010, ends on October 31). Earlier, he worked as a secretary of the Czech Republic's Permanent Mission to the U.N. in New York (1990-1995), ambassador to Lithuania (1998-2001), to Britain (2003-2005) and ambassador and head of the Czech Republic's Permanent Mission to NATO (2005-2009). He was minister for European affairs for six months, from May to November 2009.  

His nominated lasted for months since it was complicated by the caretaker government of Jan Fischer five years ago. The Civic Democrats (ODS) and Social Democrats (CSSD), who were behind the formation of Fischer´s cabinet, agreed on Fuele at the beginning of November 2009.

Vera Jourova, 49 - Local Development Minister and ANO first deputy charwoman who is to become Czech EU commissioner in the nascent EC. She worked as a civil servant in municipal and regional authorities; was deputy local development minister (2003-06). In recent years she worked in consultancy, focusing on European funds.

Representative of the government coalition parties, the CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), approved her nomination for EU commissioner at a meeting of the coalition council today. Jourova was nominated by her ANO which was pushing for Telicka before. The CSSD´s original candidate was former finance minister Pavel Mertlik, while the KDU-CSL was pushing for Petr Blizkovsky, an experienced official with a long career in Brussels.


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