Outgoing foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra was named Friday as the Dutch government's nomination for EU Commissioner, after EU climate chief Frans Timmermans resigned to run in the upcoming Dutch elections.
"After consultations within the government and with the president of the European Commission, I have decided to put forward Wopke Hoekstra as candidate for the European Commission," caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said in a statement.
Hoekstra has served as the Dutch foreign minister since 2022. The four-party coalition government recently collapsed amid disagreement over migration policy.
He was finance minister between 2017 and 2022, representing the Netherlands in negotiations on the EU's post-pandemic financial recovery. He gained a reputation in Brussels as one of the most vocal critics of shared fiscal burden, rallying a group of so-called "frugal" countries to oppose issuing collective debt in the form of "corona bonds".
Hoekstra will need to pass a hearing in the European Parliament before he can take up the role.
Timmermans formally resigned from the Commission earlier this week and his replacement is expected to take the baton on the EU's climate policy, although Commission President Ursula von der Leyen could decide to allocate the climate portfolio to another Commissioner.
A European Commission spokesperson said Friday that Hoekstra will be interviewed by von der Leyen on Tuesday, August 29.
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that socialist Maroš Šefčovič, who has been dealing with relations with the UK and setting up a joint gas buying platform among others, would take on Timmermans' previous responsibilities as European Commission Vice-President for the Green Deal, but the climate portfolio remains up for grabs.
Hoekstra belongs to the right-leaning Christian Democratic Appeal party, whose political family the European People's Party (EPP) has come under fire recently for attempts to dilute and block landmark EU climate policies.
In response to the nomination, the group of the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament confirmed their claim to the climate portfolio Friday, describing Hoekstra as a "controversial" candidate.
“Against the backdrop of the conservative EPP’s recent cynical and populist manoeuvres to water down the Green Deal and derail key legislative files such as the nature restoration law, it is crucial for our Group that the climate portfolio remains in the hands of the Socialists and Democrats family," the S&D Group said in a statement.
“Wopke Hoekstra became known to the wider European public with controversial statements during the Covid-19 crisis," the group added, "to gain the support of our Group, any Commissioner-designate has to prove beyond doubt their commitment to European values, such as solidarity as a cornerstone of our union.”
Hoekstra's hearing before the European Parliament is expected to take place in the early autumn.