Putting the UK’s Jonathan Hill as EU commissioner in charge of finance is like appointing your goat as your new gardener.

Bearing in mind goats are voracious destroyers of garden plants, this expresses most colourfully opposition to president-elect Jean-Claude Junker’s announcement concerning Hill yesterday.

Sven Giegold MEP, a German Green Party member, goes on to describe the proposal as a “cheap present” to UK prime minister David Cameron. Despite his left-ish political leanings, Giegold – well respected for his intellectual mastery of financial matters – describes the moved as “provocative”.

A later, English version of Giegold’s press release changed the goat analogy to one of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

However, when asked whether the nomination would be opposed in parliamentary vetting of all the new commissioners, his office replied that “We have no crystal ball – it is too soon to guess.”

A similar answer greeted a question on forecasting the future of pension legislation, including proposals for the IORP II Directive.

A key person here is Marianne Thyssen MEP, a Belgian national and member of the centre–right EPP party, who will be taking over as commissioner for employment and social affairs, including pension matters.

Her background includes 23 years as an MEP, mostly specialised in banking. Questioned on her position on pensions, her office told IPE: “She will not communicate any views as yet – that will have to wait until she is in place as a commissioner.”

In fact, the present commission, with Michel Barnier as centre-right commissioner covering financial legislation, continues in office until the changeover, at the end of October.

Giegold’s press release opposes the Lord Hill appointment based on his record as a banking lobbyist. He is described as a co-founder of the firm Quiller Consultants, whose customers include companies from the financial sector such as HSBC. 

A Briton with strong contacts within the City of London and the financial-market lobby is thus about to be sitting in a central position for future regulation of financial markets.

“To make the goat the gardener is unacceptable, especially in this area” is Giegold’s position.

Further criticism of the appointment comes from Gianni Pittella, president of the centre-left S&D party in the European Parliament.

An informed EU source comments that risk of the Parliament refusing the appointment of Hill is decreased due to Juncker’s new structural reforms to the functioning of the Commission.

Commissioners will have to work in a more collegiate way, reducing the effect of the individual position of any individual commissioners, the source says.

In other words, the system will be less “silo-ish – there will be more checks and balances”.