President Von der Leyen backs Hoekstra as new EU climate commissioner

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Tuesday afternoon that she will propose Wopke Hoekstra to succeed Frans Timmermans as the European Commissioner for Climate Action. The announcement came following an interview with the outgoing Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Von der Leyen stated that Hoekstra has “showed strong motivation for the post and great commitment to the European Union.” She added that he also possesses “relevant professional experience for this post.”

Von der Leyen will now submit her proposal for Hoekstra’s appointment to the Council and the European Parliament. Hoekstra must still undergo a hearing in the European Parliament before he can assume the role previously held by Frans Timmermans, who stepped down to lead a PvdA-GroenLinks alliance in the upcoming election.

Hoekstra’s nomination by the Cabinet for the post sparked controversy in local and European politics. There are doubts about his suitability to represent the European Union on climate policy during this time of crucial climate negotiations. Sources in Brussels reportedly preferred D66’s Sigrid Kaag to represent the EU at COP 28 later this year. The major climate conference will take in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November to 12 December.

Wopke Hoekstra said earlier on Tuesday that he had a “very good” conversation with President Ursula von der Leyen about his appointment but could not give further comments. The former CDA leader also did not want to comment on the criticism of his nomination.

Wopke Hoekstra’s bid for the Eurocommissioner position is generating internal dissent within his own party, de Telegraaf reported on Tuesday. Several party sources told the newspaper their surprise that Hoekstra, who did not excel as a party leader, could potentially get a prestigious role in Brussels. It is also reported that Hoekstra did not discuss his candidacy with party colleagues before announcing it.

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