Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra will be formally nominated by the cabinet later on Friday to replace Frans Timmermans as European Commissioner.
Timmermans, the current climate commissioner, has left Brussels to lead the PvdA/GroenLinks alliance into the November general election.
Hoekstra had already said he will leave parliament after the election. The 47-year-old is likely to take over Timmerman’s climate portfolio until the new commission is formed after the June elections next year.
Hoekstra has had a key role in efforts to support Ukraine but faces a tough confirmation hearing. He was finance minister in the previous Dutch government and irritated southern European countries with his insistence on fiscal discipline during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told reporters on Thursday evening, after news of the appointment was broken by the FT, that Hoekstra’s wide experience made him the right person to replace Timmermans. He is currently foreign minister in the caretaker cabinet.
“I think he is a good candidate,” Rutte said. “I have had a lot of intensive consultations within the cabinet and in Brussels and this was my conclusion.”
Asked if it was the right time to let the foreign minister go to Brussels, given the war in Ukraine, Rutte said Hoekstra would be doing a crucial job. “There are disadvantages, but the advantage is that he can pick things up quickly,” Rutte said.