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Von der Leyen approves nominations of Thierry Breton, Oliver Varhelyi as EU Commissioners

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Ursula von der Leyen is setting out her Commission
Ursula von der Leyen is setting out her Commission -
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European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has approved Thierry Breton and Oliver Varhelyi as nominees for her administration after previous suggestions were vetoed by European lawmakers.

The French businessman and Hungarian diplomat must still be approved by the MEPs, and the Romanian nomination remains vacant because of a change of government in Bucharest.

Von der Leyen’s Commission will have three executive vice-presidents in Frans Timmermans, Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrokvskis.

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed Breton to be Europe's head of industrial policy after his first choice, Sylvie Goulard, was rejected.

Breton, who was France's finance minister under late President Jacques Chirac, has been chief executive of Atos technology group since 2009.

But despite his conservative background, he was an early backer of Macron during the 2017 French presidential election campaign.

Hungary proposed Varhelyi as its commissioner after Prime Minister Viktor Orban's first choice, ex-justice minister Laszlo Trocsanyi, was blocked due to conflict of interest accusations related to his former law office.

Trocsanyi was a key figure behind Hungarian laws that Brussels sees as undermining the rule of law in Hungary.

The Romanian nomination process has been delayed after its government was toppled by a vote of no-confidence on October 10.

Bucharest has been about to propose a replacement Rovana Plumb, who was quickly rejected by MEPs.

There is also a question over whether the UK will need to nominate a Commissioner. Despite Boris Johnson’s insistence that Britain will leave the EU on Thursday evening, his government has been granted a Brexit extension of up to January 31.

Von der Leyen has previously indicated that the UK will make a nomination in the event of a Brexit extension, although a decision has not yet been made.

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