November 24, 2009 / 11:43 AM / in 8 years

Denmark proposes Hedegaard for new EU climate job

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark has nominated Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard, who is playing a leading role in U.N. climate talks, to become the European Union’s first climate commissioner, Danish officials said on Tuesday.

EU member states make nominations for Commission posts, but it is up to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to allocate portfolios on his team.

Nonetheless, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said that the nomination was by agreement with Barroso and that he expected Hedegaard to be appointed to the newly-created position of climate commissioner.

Up to now the Commission has had portfolios for the environment and energy but not a specific post for climate affairs.

“I have explicitly expressed to him (Barroso) that I expect Connie Hedegaard to become the new climate commissioner,” Rasmussen said on TV2 news.

“It is of course his decision,” Rasmussen said. “He puts together his Commission, but he has confirmed to me that Connie Hedegaard will get a portfolio that matches her experience and qualifications.”

However, not all 27 EU countries have yet nominated who they want to serve on the Commission and a Commission spokesman indicated that Barroso would take a while to decide his team.

“The president will complete the exercise in due time and the first condition is that he has the whole list of candidates for commissioners’ posts,” spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio told a briefing in Brussels.

Hedegaard, aged 49, has played a central role in the run-up to the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen on December 7-18 which is aiming for an agreement to replace provisions of the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012.

Hedegaard will step down as climate and energy minister, but she will simultaneously be appointed minister for the U.N. climate conference, the prime minister’s office said.

A member of the Danish Conservative Party, Hedegaard was the youngest member of parliament when she was elected in 1984.

She left for a career in journalism in the 1990s, including a stint as a TV news presenter, before returning to politics, becoming environment minister in 2004 and Denmark’s first climate minister in 2007.

The government appointed Lykke Friis, a 40-year-old University of Copenhagen administrator from Rasmussen’s Liberal party, to replace Hedegaard as climate and energy minister.

Additional reporting by Erik Matzen and Henriette Jacobsen in Copenhagen and David Brunnstrom in Brussels; editing by David Stamp

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