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Věra Jourová to step in as EU justice chief

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European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová will take over as the EU institution’s chief justice official, as Belgian commissioner Didier Reynders starts his campaign to get the top job at the human rights organization Council of Europe, three people with direct knowledge of the change told POLITICO.

The Council of Europe on March 25 shortlisted Reynders alongside former Swiss president Alain Berset and Estonia’s former culture minister Indrek Saar for the job of secretary general ahead of a final vote in late June. Reynders has to take a leave of absence from his commission role to campaign for the position.

The Strasbourg-based organization has 46 member countries and is not a part of the European Union institutions. It is an important multilateral organization on democracy and rule of law issues that runs the European Court of Human Rights.

Reynders was expected to start his leave of absence on April 25 but had to start sooner to participate this week in a parliamentary session for the Council of Europe. His X account already marks him as a candidate for the organization and commissioner on leave. The commissioner posted campaign messages on April 14 on X, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Jourová already oversaw Reynders’ portfolio in her role as vice president for values and transparency, including the rule of law, fight against disinformation and media pluralism issues.

The Czech politician was commissioner for justice, consumer and gender equality in 2014-2019 and previously partly replaced competition vice president Margrethe Vestager when she took a leave of absence to campaign for the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Jourová, who hails from the same political group as Reynders, the liberal Renew group, has said she will not seek a third mandate as commissioner.

Her expected takeover comes amid a series of reshuffles as European politicians and top officials set their sights on new jobs ahead of the European Parliament election on June 6-9 and the formation of a new European Commission that will happen later this year.

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