Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Croatia's EU commissioner to face MEPs' questions

  • Mimica's (c) little portfolio covers everything from online gambling to Chinese toys (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

From 1 July, the European Commission is to have 28 members. But Croatia's nominee has to get through MEPs' question first.

Deputies from the consumer protection and environment committees will hear from the career politician - Neven Mimica, who is slated to become commissioner for consumer policy - on Tuesday (4 June) morning.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He is in a good position to persuade them that he has enough knowledge of the dossier and of European Parliament procedure to go forward.

He also has credibility in terms of his independence from Croatian politics.

Mimica is already well known in the EU capital.

Back in 2000, he led the Croatian delegation in negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union. It was Croatia's first step on a 13-year-long journey to join the Union.

In his work as a national MP, Mimica also chaired the European integration committee, which was in regular contact with the EU assembly, for seven years.

For the past year and a half, he has taken charge of Croatia-EU relations in his post as deputy prime minister.

At a personal level, the 60-year-old has a master's in economics and trade.

He has first-hand experience in the field as Croatia's chief negotiator on World Trade Organisation membership.

Covering everything from online gambling to Chinese toys, his portfolio is more complex than it appears at first glance.

But he has spent the past few weeks swotting up.

He is also being helped along by an EU official, the commission's Nils Behrndt, who is expected to become his cabinet chief.

Behrnt was previously deputy chief of cabinet for Maltese commissioner Tonio Borg.

But Borg's portfolio - health and consumer policy - is being split in two to make room for Mimica.

Meanwhile, coming from a country where news about high level corruption comes out on an almost daily basis, his name has never come up in any scandal.

Borg last year nearly got the red card from MEPs over his outspoken Roman Catholic values.

But Mimica has steered free from making any controversial comments in his long career.

His official declaration of interests also paints a modest picture - he owns a nine-year-old Citroen Xara and shares in two companies worth just €5,000-or-so in total.

In another rarity in Croatian politics, he has few enemies either in the centre-left Croatian government or or the centre-right opposition who might call on their friends in the EU assembly to make life hard.

If no news is sometimes good news, his entire nomination process has made few headlines outside Croatia.

The EU parliament last week did not even post a press notice about Tuesday's hearing on its online agenda.

Inside Croatia, his appointment has attracted criticism but not on personal grounds.

Croatia media has reflected popular anger about how much commissioners get paid - Mimica's monthly EU salary will be more or less what he got paid annually as deputy PM.

Media also attacked the fact the EU is increasing, instead of reducing, the number of the top-paid posts.

The Lisbon Treaty envisaged a small cull of commissioners.

But this was later changed to ensure Ireland's support in a treaty referendum.

If Mimica gets through the hearing as expected, he is likely to stay around for a long time.

His current mandate will run for about a year until EU elections next May.

But he is also tipped to be Croatia's commissioner-designate for the next legislature, lasting into 2019.

The writer is senior Brussels correspondent of Croatian daily Jutarnji List

Abysmal turnout in Croatia's EU vote

Two and a half months before Croatia joins the EU, just 21 percent of voters bothered to cast ballots in Sunday's election of 12 MEPs.

Croatians say Yes to EU accession

Croatians voted in favour of joining the European Union on Sunday in a popular referendum that will see it become the 28th member state, but the turnout was low.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us