Friday

22nd Nov 2019

King to become UK's last EU commissioner

  • Sir King: "I have always been proud to be British and proud to be European" (Photo: European Parliament)

Sir Julian King, the likely last EU commissioner from the UK, refused to be drawn into speculation on Brexit while quizzed on Monday (12 September) by MEPs in a three-hour hearing on his security portfolio.

King, the UK’s outgoing ambassador to France, began his speech to the EP civil liberties committee in French, in a gesture to dispel suspicion he would represent UK interests only.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

“Personally, I have always been proud to be British and proud to be European and see no contradiction between the two,” he told deputies, in what was a half empty room. He pledged to serve “the European general interest, and only the general interest.”

EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker carved out a new portfolio for King on “security union” in a surprise move, given that the UK has opt-outs from home and justice affairs policies that are the foundation of EU security cooperation.

The 52-year old King was nominated in July, after the previous UK commissioner, Jonathan Hill responsible for financial services, resigned in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

“Neither terrorism, nor organised crime respects national borders. Indeed their business models thrive on the lack of coordination between states,” King told MEPs.

“Security of one member state is security of all,” he said.

Brexit: ‘No comment’

A life-long British civil servant, King did not want to discuss Brexit with the MEPs. “I’m here before you to discuss the role that I am to fulfil,” he said, while adding that he had strongly supported the Remain side in the referendum.

Asked by UK Independence Party deputy Gerard Batten which "master” King would serve if EU and UK interests collide, and how long he will hold the job, but King declined to speak further on Brexit.

“I don’t think you should read anything into my nomination in the wider issue of Brexit,” he said.

He refused to speculate how long the negotiations will last, and therefore how long he would stay in Brussels.

“I’m not going to give a running commentary on a negotiation process that hasn’t even started yet,” King said.

He vowed to abide by his Commission oath he will remain independent and not take orders from any government or organisation, but commissioners often serve as the eyes and ears of their capitals government, as well as go-betweens.

“London will be still two-hours train from Brussels and two-hours from Paris, jihadi terrorists don’t make a difference of whether we are EU member or not, we do have a shared responsibility to tackle the task,” King said.

Cracking down

He presented an eight-point plan for combatting terrorism that included fighting radicalisation by stepping up help for civil society, better information sharing between member states, and strengthened security at external borders.

He spoke of prior security checks for third country nationals travelling to the EU and said Europe should reinforce critical infrastructure.

He also wants to work with internet service providers to crack down on hate-speech and jihadi propaganda.

He said the commission would come out with a proposal to cut terrorist financing in the next months.

King added that existing instruments, such as sharing of airline passenger details, which remains controversial, should be used to the fullest.

Pressed by MEPs critical of the EU airline data (PNR) agreement, King said he would react to an upcoming verdict by the European Court of Justice on a PNR deal with Canada, but not to opinions of the court’s advocates general.

"He gave an intelligent, well-prepared and sophisticated performance," Claude Moraes, British Labour MEP and chairman of the EP committee, told journalists after the hearing.

The committee is to discuss King's nomination on Tuesday morning, but few antagonistic questions on Monday he appeared likely to go through. If he is also cleared by plenary on Thursday, he can take up his post once the Council approves his appointment.

EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner

The European Commission has started an infringement proceeding against the United Kingdom for failing to nominate a commissioner-candidate. The new commission, which wants to launch on 1 December, first requires a commissioner from each of the 28 EU states.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament votes on new commission next week
  2. Berlusconi wants Europe to be a military global power
  3. Orban ordered to apologise over 'misleading' Soros survey
  4. EPP to decide on expelling Fidesz by end of January
  5. Rowdy anti-corruption protest in Malta
  6. Ambassador: Trump ordered Ukraine election meddling
  7. EU links Libyan government to human trafficking
  8. Greek PM on migration: 'Greece has reached its limits'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. EPP congress pledges 'moderate' climate solution
  2. EPP wants to re-open accession talks with Balkans
  3. New EU financial instruments needed
  4. Binding measures to expand gender balance
  5. Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong
  6. EU Africa envoy: Europe needs to look beyond migration
  7. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  8. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us