26th Oct 2016

Slovene commission nominee to be sent home

MEPs are Wednesday (8 October) to decide on the five commissioners who failed to get the green light after parliamentary hearings.

They are likely to ask that Slovenia’s Alenka Bratusek be replaced while some other portfolios be reshuffled.

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Bratusek, who is supposed to be a vice-president in charge of EU's nascent "energy union", was deemed to have given a poor performance on Monday, with short and unconvincing answers.

Meanwhile, an anti-corruption commission at home contradicted her statements in the European Parliament, a further blow to the former prime minister who appointed herself as commissioner nominee while she was still in office.

"The Commission for Prevention of Corruption has not yet concluded the investigation regarding the 'selection procedure of the European Commissioner' and therefore yesterday's statement by Alenka Bratusek in relation to the Commission's findings in that case is incomplete or rather premature and inaccurate," the anti-graft body said in a statement.

The commission added that it sent Bratusek its findings last month, but she never picked them up from the post office. She is "thus considered to be officially served" and had a right to reply by Tuesday, 7 October.

Bratusek is from the smaller Liberal family, which means she can be sacrificed without upsetting the arrangements between the two large political families - the Socialists and the centre-right European People's Party.

The two had locked horns over some of the commissioner-candidates. The EPP threatened to take down France's Pierre Moscovici - a Socialist - if their own candidate, Miguel Arias Canete - a controversial Spanish ex-minister - gets the axe.

Moscovici on Tuesday filed written replies to extra questions put by MEPs dealing with economics, who were unconvinced that the former French finance minister will stick to EU's deficit and debt rules.

"I will not hesitate to step up the procedure for any country failing to take the necessary action, applying equal treatment to all, big or small, and assessing each and every one on its own merit, without any exception," he wrote.

Another EPP candidate that has not yet received the thumbs up is Finnish former prime minister Jyrki Katainen, who some left-wing MEPs see as embodying austerity policies.

Britain's Lord Hill, after answering extra questions both in writing and orally on Tuesday, is also awaiting his verdict on Tuesday.

They are all expected to pass, except Bratusek, several EP sources told EUobserver.

Slovenia is likely to send another candidate, possibly Socialist MEP Tanja Fajon.

A reshuffle of portfolios is then likely to occur, particularly after Hungary's Tibor Navracsics got the thumbs down on Monday for the culture, education and citizenship portfolio.

Slovenia is likely to lose the vice-presidency, with Slovakia's Maros Sefcovic mooted to take over the "energy union", while Fajon might get culture and Navracsics transport.

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