Deadline for Commission successor is looming

Speculation over who will become Greece’s next European commissioner continued during the weekend, with Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos emerging as the frontrunner to succeed Maria Damanaki.

European Union governments are expected to nominate candidates by the end of July to serve in the bloc’s executive arm. A decision by Greece’s power-sharing administration will have to be made ahead of a visit on August 4 by Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker to Athens – the first stop on his tour of the bloc’s 28 capitals.

Juncker is expected to meet with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who is said to expect support from the former Luxembourg premier on the evaluation of the Greek program and talks on debt sustainability due to start in the fall.

Reports over the weekend said that Avramopoulos, a conservative heavyweight and former diplomat, was tipped as the favorite to succeed Damanaki, a socialist who has served as European commissioner for maritime affairs and fisheries, in the post of Greece’s European commissioner.

Other candidates mooted for the position were Dora Bakoyannis and Costis Hatzidakis from New Democracy, and Anna Diamantopoulou, Dimitris Kourkoulas, or again Damanaki from coalition partner PASOK.