Frans Timmermans has served as First Vice President to Commission President Juncker and Commissioner for better regulation and rule of law since 2014. The experienced 57-year-old lead candidate for the centre-left socialists is known for his strong communication and language skills as well as his leadership on some of the most challenging issues facing the EU, including the migration crisis and the rule of law dispute with Poland. Timmermans previously in the Dutch government as Minister for Foreign Affairs (2012-2014) and as State Secretary for European Affairs (2007-2010). Despite being the Netherlands’ strongest running lead candidate, Timmermans does not enjoy the full support of Prime Minister Mark Rutte given his opposition to the spitzenkanditat process.
Key policy priorities:
A more social Europe: Timmermans has pledged to implement the 20 principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights and make the EU a frontrunner in the implementation of the Sustainable Development goals. His party is also committed to fighting zero-hour contracts and unpaid internships as well as clarifying the self-employment status frequently used by online platforms and extending collective agreements to non-standard forms of employment. Timmermans has also promised to encourage national minimum income schemes.
A more progressive economy: Timmermans has called for a deep and ambitious reform of the Eurozone, including a Eurozone budget. Timmermans also wants to make European budgetary and fiscal rules more flexible and bring an end to austerity-only policies. Furthermore, Timmermans calls for new public issuances of green financial instruments at EU level to increase sustainability. Finally, a fairer taxation model which would start with a new EU digital tax.
A new long-term EU environment strategy with climate and energy targets phasing out fossil fuels by 2050, Europe-wide taxes on CO2, measures against greenwashing, restrictive use in pesticides and a climate-proof EU budget. A European Just Transition Fund would also be set up to finance education and new skills for the green economy.