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15th May 2021

Kroes performs better in second EP audition

  • Despite a tough reputation, Ms Kroes failed to impress MEPs during her hearing last week (Photo: EUobserver)

European commissioner-designate Neelie Kroes appeared to do enough to win the support of MEPs in a closed-door supplementary questioning session on Tuesday (19 January), after a lacklustre performance by the Dutch Liberal politician at a European Parliamentary hearing last week threw her approval into doubt.

A decision by centre-right Bulgarian candidate Rumiana Jeleva to withdraw her strongly contested candidacy on Tuesday also helped clear the air, with some observers saying objections to Ms Kroes were largely politically motivated as parliament's groups engaged in a round of tit-for-tat attacks on opposition candidates.

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Sofia has indicated it plans to send Kristalina Georgieva, currently a vice-president of the World Bank, as a replacement for Ms Jeleva, with the new hearing session scheduled to take place on the 3 February. The full parliamentary vote on the whole college of candidates in now planned for 9 February.

Ms Kroes has so far been the only commissioner-designate to be called back for further questioning, with centre-right MEP Pilar Del Castillo indicating after the intimate session in front of political-grouping co-ordinators for parliament's culture and industry committees that the Dutch politician appeared to have done enough.

"Extra meeting was useful; she gave more solid opinions and proposals. Evaluation will take place tomorrow," said Ms Castillo via a Twitter message.

Other European Peoples' Party sources indicated to EUobserver that the political group was "quite clear that she had given substantial answers," while the spokesman for the Socialists and Democrats Group, Tony Robinson, said the parliament's second largest group would also be supporting Ms Kroes' return to the EU executive where she currently works as competition commissioner.

"I'm not expecting us to be opposing her. We were surprised that things didn't go well in the original hearing," he told EUobserver, a sentiment expressed by group leader MEP Martin Schulz in a press conference on Tuesday.

A former minister, Ms Kroes gave vague answers and displayed several knowledge gaps when questioned by MEPs last Friday on her potential Digital Agenda brief.

"She was happy to come along and underline her commitment to the portfolio," current commission competition spokesman Jonathan Todd said of Tuesday's one-hour questioning session.

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