Britain's new EU commissioner, Sir Julian King – a former ambassador to Ireland – has been asked to help develop European security and counter-terrorism plans.
The diplomat will become Commissioner for the Security Union, tasked with beefing up the EU’s counter-terrorism role and taking action to prevent radicalisation.
Sir Julian, currently UK ambassador to France, was appointed by David Cameron in one of his final acts as prime minister to ensure that the UK had a place around the table at the EU executive in Brussels.
The vacancy arose after Jonathan Hill stood down as financial regulation commissioner following Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
The portfolio offered by the
is not the derisory job in charge of paperclips or EU language policy that some Brussels insiders had joked about, but Sir Julian will be a junior member of the commission, outranked by existing politicians.
He will report to the commission’s first vice-president, Frans Timmermans, who will have the final say over any legislative initiatives. Sir Julian will not attend ministerial meetings.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the commissioner in charge of home affairs and migration, will represent the commission on security policy at meetings with EU ministers and in the European parliament, a decision seen as a snub to the UK.
Sir Julian’s job underlines the EU’s hopes of maintaining strong ties with a post-Brexit UK in fighting terrorism.
The EU executive has been pushing for a more joined-up response to terrorism even before the recent attacks in Paris, Brussels, Normandy and Nice.
Following the Brussels attacks in March, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the commission, said: “We need capital markets union, energy union, economic and monetary union, but we also think that we need a security union.”
Mr Juncker interviewed Sir Julian in July, and then spent some time “meditating” on the decision, according to a spokeswoman.
She said Sir Julian would have to deliver “very concrete anti-terrorism measures”, adding that “obviously fighting terrorism is primarily a member state’s responsibility”.
– Guardian service