6th Dec 2023


More clarity expected on Juncker commission This WEEK

  • The European Parliament will schedule at least one new hearing, most likely for the week beginning 20 October (Photo: EUobserver)

MEPs this week will decide when and how many hearings they will hold in order to complete Jean-Claude Juncker's commission after the replacement of the Slovenian candidate.

Juncker will meet the new Slovenian nominee, Violeta Bulc, on Monday (13 October).

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He will then decide if she's to have the same post as the first Slovenian nominee, Alenka Bratusek, who was rejected by the European Parliament.

Bratusek was supposed to become one of Juncker's seven vice-presidents, in charge of the "energy union".

Along with the announcement on Bulc's portfolio, Juncker is also expected to indicate if other commissioners are to have some more tasks added or taken from their current job descriptions.

The leaders of the political groups in the EU assembly, most likely on Tuesday, will decide how many hearings are needed - apart from for Bulc - and where to hold them.

Several EP sources Friday indicated the hearings probably won't be organised this week, because of procedural steps in parliament and because Bulc needs at least a week to prepare for the three-hour oral hearing and written questions.

This means the hearings will be organised the following week, when MEPs gather in Strasbourg and when the entire Juncker commission was supposed to be voted on.

If all hearings go smoothly and no extra questions or ethics issues arise, it may still be possible to hold a vote on the entire Juncker team on 22 October.

"But we won't accept anybody just to stick to a calendar," one EP source said.

In other news, eurozone and EU finance ministers will meet Monday and Tuesday in Luxembourg.

Their meeting comes as Germany's economic output is slowing down and after the European Central Bank decided to stimulate the economy by buying private-sector bonds.

One of Juncker's incoming deputies in charge of economic affairs, Jyrki Katainen, will also take part in the meeting.

Katainen is supposed to raise €300 billion in new private and public investments for the coming three years.

With the European Investment Bank also present at the meeting, Katainen will have the opportunity to approach them about his plans.

Agriculture and fisheries ministers are also meeting in Luxembourg on Monday and Tuesday, with their main topics being the 2015 fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea and the consequences of African swine fever affecting pigs in the EU.

The week wraps up with an Asia-EU summit in Milan, hosted by Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi and one of the last formal appearances of outgoing commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin is also to attend and to hold bilateral conversations with France, Germany, and the UK.

Some EU countries are looking for reasons to start to roll back Russia sanctions, with Putin expected to give symbolic handshake to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, who will also be in Milan.

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