Thursday

26th May 2022

Spain's Canete entangled in EP political battle

  • Over 270,000 EU citizens have signed a petition against the Spanish candidate (Photo: Valentina Pop)

A stormy hearing with Spain’s Miguel Arias Canete on Wednesday (1 October) ended with the Socialists seeking a delay on his approval, as part of a bigger confrontation between political groups.

"Socialists and Democrats asked for the postponement of the vote on commissioner designate Miguel Arias Canete ahead of a meeting between the spokespersons of all political groups in the energy and environment parliamentary committees tomorrow morning," they said in an emailed statement late on Wednesday night.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Several sources told this website the centre-left group wants to hold off on centre-right Canete until a decision is made on Pierre Moscovici, a Socialist commissioner from France, who’s hearing in the European Parliament is on Thursday morning.

The logic is that if Canete falls, then the centre-right will react by canning the Socialist candidate in revenge.

A Liberal candidate, Vera Jourova from the Czech republic is also put on hold for more questions. Jourova did not impress MEPs on her suitability as a commissioner for justice, consumer affairs and gender equality - a mixed-bag portfolio.

With Britain's Jonathan Hill up for a second hearing with MEPs next week on financial services, commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker could also intervene by reallocating some dossiers among the wobbly candidates to avoid the scenario of one rejection triggering a domino effect of other rejections.

The most contentious issue is giving oversight on energy and climate change to Canete, who only just sold his shares in two oil companies.

From the outset of his hearing, Socialist, Green and leftist MEPs zoomed in on Canete's family interests in the firms.

Canete said he went "beyond the legal requirements" by selling all of his shares, as did his wife and his son, who used to be chairman of one of the companies.

But the opposition MEPs were not satisfied.

They repeatedly asked him about his brother-in-law, who reportedly took over Canete's family interests and who now sits on the boards of the two oil firms.

Canete tried to dodge the question several times. Then he argued that a brother-in-law cannot be considered "direct family."

He rejected claims from one MEP, who said that the brother-in-law has been his business partner for years. He also said the oil firms are "small, with 10-15 employees" each and are "only into logistics, not oil extraction, in two small harbours".

But despite his efforts, Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt said after the hearing that: “We didn't get good answers on the potential conflict between his family ties with the oil industry in Spain and his portfolio”.

Van Brempt is also insisting for the vote on Canete to be postponed until there is a legal opinion on the fact he changed his financial declaration after Juncker gave him the energy and climate portfolio.

The Socialists' spokesman on climate, Matthias Groote, said Canete "made many general statements about the importance of climate change and the need to mainstream sustainability in all policy areas. However, he did not convince our group of his genuine belief in what he said."

Ahead of the hearing, a few dozen people mainly from left-wing and Green groups protested outside the parliament, holding up banners which said "Stop Canete".

They also referred to his comments that women are not as smart as men and that immigrants are lazy.

In his hearing, Canete said right at the start that his sexist comments were "a mistake" and apologised.

The story was corrected at 11.00 to say that Vera Jourova is no longer a Social-Democrat, but a Liberal politician.

MEPs summon UK's Hill to second hearing

MEPs have summoned the UK’s European Commission nominee, Jonathan Hill, to a second hearing amid concerns on Banking Union and Eurobonds.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us