First ‘millennial’ Commissioner to address challenges for Generation Z

(EurActiv, 12 Sep 2019) Putting the youngest ever Commissioner-designate in charge of managing the most feared threats to future generations of Europeans, such as environment protection and ocean conservation, is arguably the biggest gamble Ursula von der Leyen took in composing her team.

Lithuania’s economy and innovation minister Virginijus Sinkevičius was proposed by Commission President-elect von der Leyen as Commissioner for environment and oceans on Tuesday (10 September).

Although there is a slight but significant change in the job title, with the environmentally-friendly word ‘oceans’ replacing the old-fashioned ‘fisheries’, he will inherit most of the portfolio of outgoing Maltese Commissioner Karmenu Vella, who wished him “an excellent green/blue mandate” in a tweet.

If the European Parliament gives the go-ahead, Sinkevičius will also make use of the same services, the Directorate-General Environment (DG ENV) and the Directorate-General Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE)

“He is 28-years old and he shows that Europe is ready to hand responsibility over to the younger generation,” said von der Leyen.

Berlaymont’s previous enfant prodige, Mariya Gabriel, was 10 years older than Sinkevičius when she passed from the European Parliament to the Commission to replace Kristalina Georgieva as the Bulgarian Commissioner in 2017.

Sinkevičius became a member of his national Parliament in 2016 and chaired its economic committee. He is affiliated with the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, a party sitting with with the Greens/European Free Alliance group at the European Parliament without being a formal member of the political family.

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EurActiv, 12 Sep 2019: First ‘millennial’ Commissioner to address challenges for Generation Z