Lithuanian Virginijus Sinkevičius has been appointed European Commissioner for Environment and Oceans by president elect Ursula von der Leyen.
A member of the Farmers and Greens Party (LVŽS), a centre-right party that sits with the Greens/European Free Alliance group in the European Parliament, Sinkevičius (28 years old) received a bachelor degree in economic and social studies at Aberystwyth University, UK, in 2012, and a masters in European studies at Maastricht University in the Netherlands a year later. Sinkevičius is also deputy leader of the LVŽS, which has formed a coalition government with the Social Democratic Labour Party in Lithuania.
Among the challenges facing him in his new role will be elaborating a new EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, realising the EU’s “zero-pollution ambition”, a new circular economy action plan, the implementation of existing rules on microplastics, and a “new approach for a sustainable blue economy”.
Current European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans is set to become EU commissioner for climate action. The climate brief is just one part of his new role as Executive Vice-President for a European Green Deal.
In addition to working closely with the Commission’s directorate for climate action (DG CLIMA), Timmermans will also work closely with the directorates for agriculture, health, transport, energy, cohesion and environment policy, von der Leyen said. The president-elect said she wants the EGD to become a “hallmark” of European policy. “At the heart of it is our commitment to becoming the world’s first climate neutral continent,” she told reporters in Brussels.
The new head of the European Parliament’s environment committee, Pascal Canfin, welcomed Timmermans’ appointment, in particular his oversight of a range of interconnected policy areas. “This new approach to the ecological transition is the right one because it will make it possible to deal with issues in a cross-cutting way,”
The appointments are still subject to approval by the MEPs in parliamentary hearings.