During last week (29 September – 3 October), 21 Commissioner-designates were interviewed by the MEPs. These proceedings are part of the process of the formal appointment of the new Juncker Commission. One by one, the Commissioners first responded to written questions and then faced a 3-hour “grilling” by the parliamentary committees based on their portfolio. As expected, some candidates passed smoothly, some faced minor problems and some did not yet pass at all. The Swedish, Portugal or Slovak candidates made a good impression and were approved by the committees without any problems. On the other hand, the Czech candidate Vera Jourova was asked to answer additional questions. The Hungarian and Spanish candidates face problems as well. Most seriously though, the French candidate Pierre Moscovici´s and the British lord Jonathan Hill´s interviews cast serious doubts about whether the college of Commissioners as proposed by the President-elect Juncker could pass the plenary vote. Moscovici, designed to lead the Economic and Monetary Affairs portfolio, is regarded by many MEPs as French “Trojan horse” in the EC and that he could relax the EC´s tight fiscal rules for France. He was tasked to answer several questions over the weekend. Lord Hill, whose portfolio is to be Financial Services, is regarded as untrustworthy due to the fact that Britain is in general opposed to integration in financial services and also due to the fact that he served as a lobbyist for the City in the past. He was also asked to answer several additional questions and he is to come before the MEPs once more.
Many analysts point out, however, that the MEPs´ concerns over the problematic candidates are not linked to their competence or their past, but are due to the political fight between the EP political groups. The words “hostage-taking” were used. For example, the socialists do not like the Hungarian Tibor Navracsics, EPP-affiliated, due to his history as education minister under Mr Orban´s government. As a retaliation, the EPP expressed some concerns over the Romanian Cretu, a socialist, to give an example.
The interviews are to be concluded this week and then, at a plenary meeting, the Commission will be put to a vote of approval as a whole. That is, however, if no changes are made before then.
20th February 2019
25th January 2019