Sir Julian King, a British diplomat, was appointed by the Council as Commissioner for Security Union.
On 19 September 2016, Sir Julian King, a British diplomat, was appointed by the Council as Commissioner for Security Union after Lord Jonathan Hill resigned as the UK’s Commissioner following the June referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
King will lead the EU’s security portfolio, which was created by Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, after the terror attacks in France and Belgium this year and last. In this role, King will be charged with delivering an operational and effective Security Union, which aims to improve information sharing between Member States (particularly after it was revealed that several of the people involved in the recent terrorist attacks had been known to law enforcement in other Member States), prevent radicalisation and strengthen the European Counter Terrorism Centre at Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency.
As the current Ambassador to France during the recent Islamic terror attacks and having worked as the Ambassador to Ireland and Director General of the Northern Ireland Office, King is likely well suited to this post.
During the hearing on King’s appointment held in European Parliament on 12 September by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, King insisted that he would defend the European interest as opposed to the British one and began by speaking in French to prove this point.
Referring to the UK’s proposed exit from the EU, King stated, “I was always proud to British, but equally proud to be European. There is no contradiction between the two”. He however said that the majority of British voters had chosen to leave the EU and their will had to be respected stating, “When the UK leaves, my job here will cease.” Gerard Batten MEP of UKIP however questioned his role asking, “Why on Earth is Britain nominating a Commissioner at all, given that the last one had to resign as his position was untenable?”
Nevertheless, Parliament backed the appointment of King by 394 votes to 161, with MEPs from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) abstaining due to doubts about the suitability of the allocation of the Security Union portfolio to King in view of the upcoming negotiations on Brexit.