After their appointment by EU Member States, the Commissioner-designates have been attributed portfolios by the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. They have to undergo parliament scrutiny to confirm their fitness for the job.
Yesterday, the hearing of Commissioner-designate Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius took place in a joint session of the Fisheries (PECH) and Environment (ENVI) committees. Mr Sinkevičius is nominated by Lithuania and entrusted with the role of Commissioner for Environment and Oceans. He will work under the guidance of Mr Frans Timmermans, the Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal. Mr Sinkevičius’ role will be to ensure that the environment, blue economy and fisheries sector form an integral part of the European Green Deal, and to help deliver on the climate ambitions while creating jobs and sustainable growth.
During the hearing, Mr Sinkevičius said he will work for the full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. By 2022, he will evaluate the Common Fisheries Policy to identify how to address issues not sufficiently covered in the current policy. Fight against biodiversity loss, zero pollution and clean water are amongst his main priorities and he will take into account the results of the fitness check evaluation of the water framework directive. Answering a question on the cormorant population management, he referred back to the flexibility offered by the Birds Directive and to the responsibility of member states to take necessary actions to protect fisheries.
Virginijus Sinkevičius was born in Vilnius in 1990. He is an economist and politician for the Farmers and Greens Union party. Since 2017, he has served as Minister of the Economy and Innovation. Sinkevičius obtained a bachelor’s degree in Economic and Social Studies at Aberystwyth University in 2012 and a master’s degree in European Studies at Maastricht University in 2013. From 2011 to 2015, Sinkevičius was author and editor of the news portal ‘The Lithuanian Tribune’. In 2016, he became Deputy Leader of the Farmers and Greens Union and got elected to the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania. There, he was appointed Chair of the Committee on Economics.
After his audition in front of the PECH and ENVI Committees, the main political groups announced that they are ready to support him for the position of Commissioner for Oceans and the Environment. The next step of the procedure is a vote of the European Parliament in plenary to approve the new College of Commissioner as a whole. The vote is due to take place on October 23 and the new College should take office on November 1.