Monday

22nd Jul 2019

Centre-right asks for commissioners with Communist-free past

EU commissioner hopefuls will not win the approval of centre-right MEPs if they are considered to have collaborated with repressive Communist regimes or with governments 'tainted by corruption,' the largest group in the European Parliament has indicated.

"The candidate commissioners must under no circumstances have been associated with oppressive regimes and must not have participated in non-democratic governments or political movements, or governments or movements that have been tainted by corruption," a checklist drafted by the European People's Party (EPP) reads.

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

  • The EPP will only give a green light to commissioners who have not collaborated with oppressive regimes (Photo: Kevin Connors)

The EPP holds the largest number of seats in the EU legislature, 288 out of 736.

It is important to know what the positions of commissioner candidates were in the past, when dissidents were put in prison or killed, the conservative deputies believe. "We don't want to reward perpetrators of the Communist regimes," German MEP Manfred Weber said on Wednesday (18 November) at a press briefing.

"This will also be a question for Massimo D'Alema, if he is nominated," Mr Weber said in reply to a question regarding the Italian ex-prime minister, who is said to be a contender for the post of EU high representative for foreign affairs.

The top diplomat will require the approval of the EU legislature - with hearings expected to take place mid-January - as the person will also be vice-president of the European Commission.

But Cypriot MEP Ioannis Kassoulides said the criterion goes beyond the Italian candidate and should not be directed against a person's political preferences in his youth, as "other persons with a Maoist past" could get into trouble, in reference to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"We won't start a witch hunt," Mr Kassoulides said. His group will not ask for certificates of non-collaboration with the Communist regimes in countries where special bodies have been set up to investigate the archives of the secret police, issuing such papers for public officials. "It would have to be a case which cries out," he said.

The hearings of the commissioners is expected to start on 11 January and last for two weeks. If there are no major hiccups, the plenary will then vote on the entire college at the end of January.

However, the centre-right checklist is indicative of how the parliament want to flex its muscles when it comes to the shape of the commission.

MEPs cannot outright veto a candidate but in 2004 they gained a political foothold when they managed to pressure Mr Barroso to have the Italian commissioner withdrawn.

Political groups outline criteria for commissioner hearings

Leaders of the four largest political groups in the European Parliament on Tuesday called for transparency and complete information about the commissioner candidates in view of the January hearings, with the Bulgarian nominee emerging as the most controversial.

Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules

Only half of EU staff claim good knowledge of their workplace's ethics rules, while 82 percent of staff at the European Parliament have never attended any ethics trainings, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors.

Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency

Appalled over Coca-Cola sponsoring the recent Romanian EU presidency, MEPs have asked Finland, the new holders of the rotating post, to put an end to such practices. But Helsinki, whose presidency is sponsored by BMW, has no such plan.

EU commission has first-ever woman president

Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday obtained a narrow majority of support in the European Parliament to become the first-ever female president of the European Commission.

Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post

European Commission presidential-hopeful Ursula von Der Leyen delivered her key appeal in the European Parliament to secure the post. Her appeal appeared to appease most of the political groups - but a lack of specifics, and opposition from Greens remain.

Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again

Poland's former prime minister, Beata Szydlo, has cried foul after failing to get an EP committee chair a second time, in a fiasco which could spell trouble for the European Commission presidency vote on Tuesday.

News in Brief

  1. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  2. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  3. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election
  4. EU interior ministers to meet in Paris on migration
  5. Schinas nominated as Greek commissioner
  6. Sea-Watch captain hopes for change in EU migrant rules
  7. Russia willing to join EU payment scheme on Iran deal
  8. Commission fines US chipmaker for second time

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  2. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  3. Abortion Wars
  4. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  5. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  6. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  7. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  8. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us