Today, the Commission has appointed three new Heads of the Representation in Spain, Latvia, and Slovenia. Ms María De Los Angeles Benítez Salas will take up her duties as Head of Representation in Madrid on 1 April 2021. On 16 April 2021, Ms Zane Petre and Ms Jerneja Jug Jerše will start in their new functions in Riga and in Ljubljana, respectively. Heads of Representation act as the official representatives of the Commission in the Member States under the political authority of President Ursula von der Leyen.
Ms Benítez Salas, a Spanish national, brings with her a wide range of experience as well as her management expertise gained during her 35 years in the European Commission. She is currently Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). She joined the Commission in 1986 as Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Abel Matutes. In 1993-97, she assumed the function of principal adviser at the Commission Delegation in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After returning to Brussels, she was Head of Unit in the Directorate-General for Maritime affairs and fisheries (MARE) and in the Secretariat-General, and Director in DG AGRI responsible for various dossiers. In 2013, she became Deputy Head of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA), later Deputy Head of European political Strategy Centre (EPSC).
Ms Zane Petre, a Latvian national, brings a long experience in the Latvian and European diplomacy to her new assignment. She has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, including as a European Correspondent, in the Political Director's Bureau and Head of International Operations and Crisis Management Division and she was the Representative in the Civilian Crisis Management Committee through the Permanent Representation of Latvia to the EU, and a Head of Chancery to Moldova. In 2012, she joined the European External Action Service (EEAS). She was Head of the Political, Press and Information Section in the EU Delegation to Eritrea (2012-16) and then Deputy Head of Delegation and Head of the Political, Press and Information Section in the EU Delegation to Nepal (2016-20). In September 2020, she joined the Policy and Reform Coordination Team, Support Group to Ukraine in the Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR).
Ms Jerneja Jug Jerše, a Slovenian national, will be able to draw on her strong policy background and expertise, in particular in economics, in her new function. She joined the European Commission in 2005. She has worked in the Directorate-General for Internal Market (MARKT) and in the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN). In 2016, she moved to the Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS), where she became a Deputy Head of Unit in 2018. Currently she is a Head of Unit in the Directorate General for Structural Reform Support (REFORM) responsible for Revenue Administration and Public Financial Management.
The Commission maintains Representations in all capitals of EU Member States, and Regional Offices in Barcelona, Bonn, Marseille, Milan, Munich and Wroclaw. The Representations are the Commission's eyes, ears and voice on the ground in EU Member States. They support the President and the whole Commission in their interaction with Member States. Heads of Representation are nominated by the President and act under her political authority. They promote permanent political dialogue with the national, regional and local authorities, parliaments, social partners and civil society. The Representations provide country-specific knowledge, analysis and advice to the President and all Members of the College. They reach out to citizens and stakeholders, and together with the Spokesperson's Service they provide information about the action of the Commission and the EU to the media.