UK must pick new Commissioner if it remains in EU after October

Brexit was high on the agenda as incoming European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen held talks with Finland’s Prime Minister Antti Rinne in Helsinki on Thursday.

Von der Leyen said London must propose a candidate for a seat in the next European Commission if it stays in the EU after October 31. That could further delay the inauguration of her executive, which was supposed to take office just over a week from now.

It remains unclear just when Britain would leave the EU. Last weekend Prime Minister Boris Johnson reluctantly asked for a three-month extension of the 31 October deadline.

Although Finland now chairs the European Council, Rinne said he had not yet directly discussed a possible Brexit extension with Council President Donald Tusk.

Asked if another EU summit in Brussels will be necessary to decide on the issue, Rinne said he believed a decision could be reached through a written procedure.

“If the extension means that we can avoid a hard Brexit, it suits me,” said Rinne, adding that “a majority or maybe all member states are behind an extension”.